Even to this day, pundits pine for IT-business "alignment," as if technology is some separate entity to be joined with business functions as part of a therapy intervention. InformationWeek has always taken a different view: IT is fundamentally inseparable from "the business," and in fact is the business, with the same end goal of boosting profits, delighting customers and maximizing shareholder value. Featured on our Oct. 28, 1996, cover was GE CIO Gary Reiner, one of the five execs at the company who reported to chairman and CEO Jack Welch -- no slouch when it came to demanding results. Backing up our thesis was a study by MIT prof Erik Brynjolfsson, which found that customer-oriented strategies of our InformationWeek 500 companies at the time were "associated with the profitable use of IT. ... Other companies stressed control and reporting from IT, and they were not as profitable."