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6 Signs You Need a New IT Strategy

by Chris Curran on January 19, 2014 [email] [twitter]

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Guest post by Mike Pearl

IT departments face crushing pressure from every direction to transform IT to meet the daunting demands of the digital age.  If you feel yourself asking questions related to IT’s role, better working relationships with Marketing, and how to capitalize on the firehose of emerging technologies, it is likely time for a new IT strategy.

IT must institute massive change on multiple fronts: deepen and reshape business relationships, overhaul IT skills, relax and reformulate governance approaches, and adopt more flexible and accessible infrastructures while increasing security. But, before embarking on big change, you need to take stock of where you are now. Based on our recent interactions with business and technology executives, following are a few signs that it’s time to revamp the IT organization:

1. Redundancy Runs Rampant

As technology becomes easier to acquire, redundant contracts run rampant across enterprises. Recently, I spoke with an executive who discovered more than 40 different licenses globally at his company with a single CRM vendor. They are looking at millions of dollars in waste. We need to lure employees into one contract by transforming IT from a controlling entity into an orchestrator of business services that empowers individuals, and that offers modern IT services to business users when and where they need them.

2. Employees View IT as an Over-Controlling Parent

Employees are shooting first and asking questions later because they assume IT will say no to their requests. It’s no secret that IT has a reputation for not listening or acting fast enough. We need to change that perception by providing guardrails to empower employees with the freedom to make things happen, along with the guidance to avoid disaster. For example, employees who implement technology on their own need guidance to prevent hackers from lurking on corporate systems for months undetected.

3. The Silence between IT and Business is Deafening

Do business and IT executives recognize each other in the halls? When business and IT are estranged, IT purchases don’t map tightly to business needs. Infinite opportunities are missed. Many technology executives claim they are building relationships, but more can be done to spark and sustain digital conversations with business counterparts.  You need to forge bonds outside of the typical status meeting or random run-in, and increasingly delegate responsibilities to business professionals while you keep your eye on the overall IT picture.

4. You Update Your Code Every Leap Year

Enterprises linked to legacy systems strive to make minimal updates to their code while companies that grew up in greenfield environments make daily, multiple updates. To keep pace with technology-empowered customers, employees and partners, we need to increase the frequency of updates without disrupting the business. The new digital operating model calls for adoption of the next phase of agile development where operators and developers collaborate more effectively to accelerate innovation and enhance IT performance.

5. Employees are Kings of their Own Islands

Technology providers are going around CIOs to woo business users, and business users in turn purchase technology on their own. This leads to a lack of integration and highly fragmented data.  The result decreases visibility into the customer journey and degrades the customer experience. I recently spoke to an executive who lost a customer contract because he couldn’t access any centralized data about the prospect for rapid analysis.

6. Technology Shopping Carts Overflowing with Gadgets 

At some enterprises, employees are gallivanting around the enterprise with gadgets galore, but there’s no overall purpose for the technology investments. When there’s no strategic plan for technology investments, devices introduce complication, cost and security risks. IT executives need to get comfortable playing the role of consultant, counseling the enterprise on which emerging technologies to embrace and why. This requires technology talent with rapid prototyping abilities and a keen understanding of the iterative innovation process.

The new year calls for a new approach to IT. More than a quick fix is needed. This post is the first in a series of blog entries on designing and developing a New IT Platform. Keep reading as we address how CIOs can remake the IT department for the digital age.

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