Home → Magazine Archive → February 2015 (Vol. 58, No. 2) → February 2015 (Vol. 58, No. 2) → Abstract

To Govern IT, or Not to Govern IT?

By Carlos Juiz, Mark Toomey

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 58 No. 2, Pages 58-64

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To govern, or not to govern information technology (IT) is no longer a choice for any organization. IT is a major instrument of business change in both private- and public-sector organizations. Without good governance, organizations face loss of opportunity and potential failure. Effective governance of IT promotes achievement of business objectives, while poor governance of IT obstructs and limits such achievement.

The need to govern IT follows from two strategic factors: business necessity and enterprise maturity. Business necessity follows from many actors in the market using technology to gain advantage. Consequently, being relevant and competitive requires organizations to deeply integrate their own IT agendas and strategic business plans to ensure appropriate positioning of technology opportunity and response to technology-enabled changes in the marketplace. Enterprise maturity follows from a narrow focus on operating infrastructure, architecture, and service management of an owned IT asset no longer being key to development of the organization. Achieving value involves more diverse arrangements for sourcing, ownership, and control in which the use of IT assets is not linked to direct administration of IT assets. Divestment activities (such as outsourcing and adoption of cloud solutions) increasingly create unintended barriers to flexibility, as mature organizations respond to new technology-enabled pressure. Paradoxically, contemporary sourcing options (such as cloud computing and software-as-a-service) can increase flexibility and responsiveness. Business necessity and enterprise maturity thus overlap and feed each other.


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