Drawing ‘Align’ in the Sand: The Cultural Shift Toward Federating IT at Guardian Life Insurance

Drawing ‘Align’ in the Sand: The Cultural Shift Toward Federating IT at Guardian Life Insurance

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Abstract

The 5-year transformation at Guardian Life Insurance provides significant insights for organizations aspiring to enhance their IT–business alignment. Alignment is more than just organizational structure, there is no silver bullet; it requires effective governance, partnership, communications, value analytics, technical services, and people. Like most companies around the globe, Guardian recognized the importance of moving to a collaborative IT–business alignment relationship; IT–business alignment was a persistent pervasive problem that needed to be improved. In 2005, Guardian viewed IT as an ineffective expensive cost of supporting the business. Was improving the IT–business relationship as difficult as drawing ‘a line’ in the sand? Today, IT is enabling and driving demonstrable strategic business value. The approach that transpired this turnaround at Guardian will provide students and organizations with a clear understanding and set of lessons learned that can be applied to enhance IT–business harmony. More importantly, it will help organizations recognize the important role that IT and business leadership must play as they collaborate to address the important considerations necessary to attain a mature relationship. To demonstrate this transformation, the past and the current IT–business alignment maturity of Guardian has been benchmarked and analyzed to reveal the steps taken to enhance the impact that IT is having on the company. Were these initiatives all that are necessary to enhance the IT–business relationship? What are the important next steps to improve the relationship?

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