Model-driven Alignment : Linking Business Strategy with Information Systems

Abstract: Information technology (IT) is more pervasive than ever before, constituting a significant factor for performance and survival in the business arena. It is essential that IT within organizations understands what the Business needs in order to provide the necessary support and bring value, which is also true when IT is also the main value creator. Therefore, alignment between the Business and IT within organizations is an issue of great concern and it is still open for solvency both for business and IT executives and practitioners.This work is scoped to the alignment linkage between business strategy and information systems (IS), where business strategy typically constitutes the primary exponent of the Business and IS typically encapsulates the elements of IT sustaining an organization. Current approaches are either focused on detailed aspects of IS and treat business strategy abstractly or use distinct business strategy formulations (e.g. Value Chain) but deal with IS only partially. This is problematic because the abstract use of business strategy hinders traceability of strategic intentions and initiatives towards features/aspects of IS, which are aimed to actualize and support such intentions. Because approaches using distinct business strategy formulations are not relevant to all organizations and are limited only to the IS aspects addressed.Introducing a model-driven approach for the alignment linkage is aimed at addressing the outlined shortcomings. Following a design science research paradigm, the main artifact developed is the Unified Business Strategy Meta-Model (UBSMM), which is based on conceptualizing established business strategy formulations (e.g. Value Chain) and integrating them. UBSMM supports mappings to IS models used in organizations, such as IS requirements, enterprise models and enterprise architecture, and provides unambiguous utilization of business strategy for the alignment linkage.Contributions of this thesis are grounded both on the process of building UBSMM and mapping to IS models, as well as the artifact itself. Conceptualizing and integrating business strategy formulations provides a less ambiguous and unified view of strategic concepts. This limits variations in interpretation and reinforces mappings to IS models, which are defined based on inter-schema properties across models. Therefore, UBSMM can link business strategy to IS models enhancing their communication in a traceable manner, ergo, support alignment.