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Building IT Infrastructure for Strategic Agility

Executives make few moves more critical than their decisions about which technology-infrastructure investments will promote future strategic agility.

To pinpoint best practices, three IT experts marshaled 10 years of data from 89 leading enterprises. One finding was that when companies describe their IT-infrastructure capabilities as services instead of equipment (say, the provision of a fully maintained laptop computer with access to all company systems and the Internet), they do a better job of putting a value on what they are buying.

Understanding the 70 IT-infrastructure services that emerge consistently from the research can help executives identify which investments will make sense for which strategic business initiative. And understanding whether the contemplated initiative is supply-side, internally focused or demand-side can help managers decide whether to make the infrastructure investment on a business-unit level or enterprisewide.

The authors find that leading companies are making regular, systematic, modular and targeted IT-infrastructure investments on the basis of overall strategic direction. If other companies can learn to recognize which IT-infrastructure capabilities are needed for which kinds of initiatives, they can have some assurance that the investments they make today will serve the strategies of tomorrow.

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