This dissertation focuses on the dynamics of Cloud Computing and their potential impact on business-IT alignment. A review of the literature concerning business-IT alignment found the area to be a topic of major concern for senior IT managers in many companies. It also found that despite intensive research in the area, and the implementation of practical models for assisting with this alignment, the art of successfully aligning information technology with the business functions in organisations remained a significant challenge.
The literature suggested that there were many complex factors affecting business-IT alignment, and that the degree of influence exerted by each of these factors was highly dependent on the context in which it was measured. This qualitative analysis of the business-IT alignment problem, using the case study method to understand the subjective perceptions of influential IT decision makers in large organisations in Ireland, confirms the findings of the literature. The degree of alignment in organisations is highly dependent on the backgrounds of influential decision makers.
The literature very clearly delineates two views of the strategic importance of IT to organisations: the 'Resource-Based' view of IT as a strategic resource, and the 'Contingency' view of IT as a function facilitating the business strategy. This research found very clear linkages between the backgrounds of the interview subjects and the views they formed on the strategic importance of IT.
The advent of Cloud Computing adds another variable to the already complex problem of business-IT alignment. However, in contrast with the subject of business-IT alignment, there has been very little business research done on the effects of Cloud Computing adoption on organisations. This research paper found that while there were mixed views on how the Cloud would impact business-IT alignment, the overall perception was that it would hinder, rather than help with the issue.
This may seem counterintuitive, as one of the primary selling points of Cloud is its model of utility computing, where the consumption of IT services is as simple and predictable as the purchase and use of electricity. This research found that it was this very promise, and the willingness of non-IT managers to believe it, that would exacerbate alignment difficulties. The research found that senior IT managers believe IT governance, architecture and systems integration to be intricate processes, that need to be managed by IT professionals to deliver successful IT services to the business. The Cloud paradigm, therefore, not only has the potential to make alignment more difficult, but it could also threaten the very existence of the IT department itself. Author keywords: Cloud computing, business-IT alignment