Information Management: The Organizational Dimension

By Michael J. Earl | Go to book overview

8 An Organizational Approach to IS Strategy-Making
MICHAEL J. EARL
Introduction
For many IS executives strategic information systems planning (SISP) continues to be a critical issue ( Niederman et al. 1991). It is also reportedly the top IS concern of chief executives ( Moynihan 1990). At the same time it is almost axiomatic that information systems management be based on SISP ( Synott and Gruber 1982). Furthermore, as investment in information technology has been promoted to both support business strategy or create strategic options ( Earl 1988; Henderson and Venkatraman 1989), an 'industry' of SISP has grown as IT manufacturers and management consultants have developed methodologies and techniques. Thus SISP appears to be a rich and important activity for researchers.The literature recommends that SISP target the following areas:
aligning investment in IS with business goals;
exploiting IT for competitive advantage;
directing efficient and effective management of IS resources;
developing technology policies and architectures.

It has been suggested ( Earl 1989) that the first two areas are concerned with information systems strategy, the third with information management strategy, and the fourth with information technology strategy. According to surveybased research to date, it is usually the first two areas that dominate chief information officers's agendas. Indeed, SISP has been defined in this light ( Lederer and Sethi 1988) as 'the process of deciding the objectives for organizational computing and identifying potential computer applications which the organization should implement'. This definition was used in the investigation reported here into SISP activity and experience in twentyseven UK companies.

Five different approaches to strategic information systems planning were found, and one---the organizational approach--appears to outperform the others. Reported by Earl in 1993, the study is summarized in the first part of this chapter. Then in response to queries since the results were first

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