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A framework for operationalising Information technology strategies in organisations
Batyashe, Nomathamsanqa Rachel
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Information Technology (IT) has become a significant part of our day-to-day lives, particularly for businesses, including government activities. IT is a vital and pervasive instrument for any organisation's existence, competitiveness and sustainability. But with its pervasiveness comes the need for organisations to continuously advance and improve their businesses. Hence, organisations constantly strive to improve and grow their businesses through innovative means. This is where IT departments play a pivotal role to enable and support innovations within organisations. However, the use of IT brings its own complexities. These complexities, and the sheer importance of IT, require an IT strategy. Many organisations try to operationalise their IT strategies with the aim of realising their organisational goals and objectives. However, if only some human actors adopt, implement and operationalise the strategy, the realisation of goals and objectives may be hindered. Organisations constantly develop and implement IT strategies, often unaware of the challenges that hamper the operationalisation of the IT strategy. This study is aware of research conducted concerning IT, including IT strategy and implementation and operationalisation of IT strategy. Hence, literature pertaining to these concepts are presented. Two underpinning theories structuration theory and diffusion of innovations were employed as lenses to guide the data analysis and interpretation of the findings. Qualitative research was undertaken with the aim of developing a framework to be adopted by organisations to operationalise their IT strategy. Data was collected from two cases, one in the private and the other in the public sector, employing semi-structured interviews. In this study, Broad Spectrum is referred to as case #1 and Triumph Technologies, case #2. From these two cases, 13 and 16 people at the point of saturation were interviewed at Broad Spectrum and Triumph Technologies, respectively. From the analysis, six factors were determined to influence the operationalisation of the IT strategy in Broad Spectrum (BS): problematisation; business and IT alignment; technological solutions; governance; power relationships; and skills and development. And from Triumph Technologies, the six factors identified were hierarchical consciousness; technology solutions; network of people; training and skill-set; exclusivity vs inclusivity; and language differentiation. The findings from cases #1 and #2 were mapped. Based on the mapping, the factors were grouped into four main components: 1) business vision; 2) skill and knowledge; 3) control and management; and 4) interactive schemes. Findings from the analysis were interpreted by following the interpretivist approach, based on which a framework (Operationalisation of IT Strategy Framework) was developed. The framework, Operationalisation of IT Strategy Framework (OITSF) comprised of seven main components: collaboration, heterogeneity of actors, strategic and operational intent, diverse organisational culture, technology advancement, macro and micro levels, and operational architecture. The research recommends various factors influencing and constituting operationalisation of IT strategy in organisations. Organisations in both the public and private sectors should attend to these factors, addressing and rectifying them as early as possible when operationalising their IT strategies.