Why do so many information technology projects fail? Duke Fuqua business school professor Jeremy Petranka takes a look.

“If we look more into why projects tend to fail, it’s fairly obvious that the real issue at play isn’t a lack of IT ability. Instead, it seems to be a lack of deep understanding of what makes up strategy in general, what makes up IT strategy specifically, and how these two connect within an organization,” Petranka says.

“You’d be surprised how many C-level execs I’ve worked with or taught can’t easily answer that question,” Petranka adds..

“Without getting too far into the weeds, you can think of strategy as your organization’s intentional identity. It’s who you’ve chosen to be and more importantly, who you’ve chosen not to be. With limited resources you can’t be great at everything. You have to choose your identity. In an organizational setting, this identity has to explicitly define what your measurable goals are, what things you’ve decided to be good at to achieve those goals, and how you’re going to be good at those things.”

What often prevents organizations from focusing correctly, Petranka said, is a failure of IT strategy to be driven by the broader business strategy.

“Remember, IT is just a tool to solve specific business problems,” he said. “If these aren’t clear, then there’s no chance the IT organization can have a coherent strategy.”

  • VIDEO: Learn more about Petranka’s research at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=vzB1HVt6_sk