IT Leaders Must Find Courage To Look Beyond Current Crisis

During periods of crisis, Gartner analysts feel that IT leaders should display the courage to make hard decisions that lie ahead.

hidden January 31, 2017 01:53:42 IST
IT Leaders Must Find Courage To Look Beyond Current Crisis

With the world’s financial systems teetering on the brink of systemic meltdown, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the scale of events, however, IT leaders must find the courage to look beyond the immediate threat towards the future, according to Gartner.

During periods of crisis, Gartner analysts feel that IT leaders should display the courage to make hard decisions that lie ahead.

"A financial era is ending. This age of conspicuous consumption is over, and the age of conspicuous frugality starts now," said Whit Andrews, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "The world has changed, and your role, as an IT leader must change as well."

Gartner analysts said the actions that IT leaders decide now and next will define their future. According to them, IT leaders should approach each project as if it had never existed before. Ask what it does, why do they need it, and how many people they’ll need to run it. Then ask if they can do it with less. On the budget front, IT leaders should conserve as much as they can. Nothing compares to the power of cash on hand as IT leaders seek to aid the business in defending its heart. Moving further, IT leaders should protect their people.

Users Are Driving Change –They Won’t Wait for the IT Department

Andrews said IT users are already changing, and they are not waiting for the IT department. Three in four users say they use consumer or Web tools to do their jobs. The feed back from users is that IT departments don’t support those tools, don’t deliver those tools, and then try to stamp the tools out.

"Many users buy software as a service on their own credit cards. They use their own e-mail accounts that they got for free. They catapult critical data into Web-based services IT departments don’t even know exist. They act as if consumer grade is the new industrial strength," Andrews said.

Innovation is a Human Activity

By nearly every measure the expectations versus the reality of IT are far apart. IT leaders have to change; they have to innovate to close the expectations gap. If they move slowly, they may miss the opportunity. The time between innovation and when the benefits are realised is shrinking. If IT leaders only focus on technology, they’ll lose credibility within the enterprise.

"Innovation is a human activity, and it’s not always about new technology," said Kathy Harris, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "Often, it's just about delivering faster to get IT leaders into the business. Or it’s about radically restructuring how we spend our IT money. Today, IT leaders focus on speeding transactions, maybe they should invest in connecting people to speed decisions."

IT Modernisation

Too much of today's IT budget is spent on maintaining applications built long ago for business strategies that have long since expired. IT leaders need a continuous programme to understand where today’s applications meet the business needs, and where they do not. They can start by deleting applications. Identify applications with low business value, and throw them away. IT leaders should use the cost savings from these deleted applications to fund as much of their modernisation efforts as they can.

Modernise Infrastructure

When it comes to cutting costs, IT infrastructure renewal is often one of the first areas the CIO targets because assets can be sweated and resources diverted elsewhere. This is true for some areas of the infrastructure, but it’s not true for all. For example, by not replacing older servers, an organisation risks higher power consumption and lower utilisation rates than competitors.

IT Must Deliver Business Performance Improvements

Some of the decisions IT leaders make this year will put people out of jobs; they will kill worthy projects; and they will eliminate long standing operations. However, these IT leaders will have changed IT to make it more capable, effective, and efficient in ways that matter.

"IT leaders must plan for what happens if business processes are upgraded, downgraded, or eliminated altogether," said Richard Hunter, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "Look at every project with the same mindset, starting with the business and working back from there. Ask, 'Do you have the right team, the right capabilities, and the right technology to deliver?' Decide what needs to be spent, not just what needs to be cut. That's how you 'stop the bleeding'."

IT organisations have historically delivered technology, not business performance, not change. That is no longer enough.

"Projects must deliver the promised business performance improvements. IT shares the responsibility to make that happen," said Hunter. "Everyone in the business must understand why change is required and what their role is. From now on, businesses can only afford IT that delivers value in terms of business performance."

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