As organisations enter an era of information superhighways, expanded electronic commerce, and “virtualness,” executives increasingly realise that in addition to business strategy influencing IT, IT now influences business strategy (Rockart et al., 1996). Hirschheim and Sabherwal (2001) confirmed the validity of previous findings and determined that it is important for organisations to understand the dynamic and emergent nature of business-information systems alignment. Recent perspectives on strategy argue that the basis for achieving competitive advantage, even short term advantage, lies in the configuration of resources that enable value creation through a sustained dynamic and continuous process of adaptation and change (Wheeler, 2002; Zahra & George, 2002; Breu & Peppard, 2001). Alignment competencies are created by leveraging the organisation’s specific resources and processes, structures and practices (Cumps et al., 2006).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Virtual: The authors define virtual as meaning the quality of affecting something without actually being that something. The authors further define virtual as those activities within and external to an organisation, enabled by ICT rather than face to face. The nature of ICT lends credence to Webster’s definition, “being in essence or effect but on in fact.”
Virtual Preparedness: The authors define virtual preparedness as how prepared an organisation is to operate more virtually; the extent to which it has utilized ICT in identifying opportunities for more effective internal strategic initiatives.
ICT (Information Communications Technologies): The authors define ICT as an all-encompassing term that includes any communication device or application including but not restricted to communications networks, software and systems and the proliferation of information technology-enabled access devices.
Virtual Enterprise: the authors define the virtual enterprise as globally dispersed entities enabled by ICT. The collective term encompasses corporations, small businesses, non-profit institutions, government bodies, and possibly other kinds of organizations.
Virtual Organising: The authors define virtual organising as the process of sharing knowledge and intellect through ICT-based communication; creating an organisation wide means of creating and adding value to existing activities and processes.
Virtual Collaboration: The authors define virtual collaboration as a joint effort of multiple entities either internally or externally who work as groups to accomplish tasks or projects. Collaborations may be asynchronous; not necessarily working together at the same time, or synchronous; collaborative partners are working together simultaneously and in communication, enabled by ICT.
Virtual Organisation: The authors define the virtual organisation as a collaborative initiative whose members, although geographically apart, are enabled via ICT to develop significant strategic competitive advantage while appearing to others to be a single, unified organization with a real physical location.