Few would dispute the fact that technology is core to a company’s competitive advantage and survival. But technology is also changing fast. Technologies that were little more than concepts five years ago are now mainstream. Companies are struggling to keep up, held back by legacy systems and tight budgets.
The reality is that many IT organizations are spending too much of their resources keeping the lights on—running data centers, maintaining infrastructure, and supporting break-fix. And there is usually little to no investment in the future, in the things that will enable competitive advantage.
This is the elephant in the room that no one is talking about.
If IT is to remain relevant, it must focus 80% of its time, effort, and budget on growing and transforming the business, and 20% on run activities—not the other way around. How? By addressing the three factors that shape the reality of enterprise IT today:
IT is too slow to meet fast-changing business needs Digitalization is key to remaining competitive, but many organizations are hindered by legacy processes and organizational challenges that restrict operational agility, innovation, and value creation. Meanwhile, tech-native startups are upending entire industries and threatening businesses. If an organization doesn’t have an active roadmap to transform IT, there’s a good chance it will fall behind—fast.
IT is too expensive The complexity of many organizations, with their fragmented business units and siloed departments, makes managing the business of IT difficult and expensive. Nothing short of a revamp in is in order, but the pressure to lower costs often means getting funding for change can be nearly impossible. Still, IT leaders can transform IT through a self-funding approach—using small wins (and savings) to pave the way to bigger, more impactful projects.
IT is too busy fighting fires It’s not uncommon for the demand for services to be so overwhelming that the team is forced to operate in a reactive mode. But this situation can be prevented by eliminating tedious, time-consuming tasks such as resetting passwords and restarting systems. Today, there is a wide range of automation tools and sourcing options that can free up the department to work on high-value tasks. It’s just a matter of making it a priority.
The disruptive nature of tech-native competitors demands IT to be run with greater efficiency and lower cost. Just as a hospital’s core mission is to keep a population healthy and a hotel to deliver superior comfort and convenience, IT’s true mission is to deliver business performance and results—not manage data centers.
IT needs to transform to focus on high-value work and switch gears from run to grow. This must be a priority on every IT leader’s agenda today.
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Keith is a managing principal and strategy expert at WGroup. For over a decade, he led corporate strategy organizations and professional services business units at major global technology corporations, including Unisys and Lucent Technologies.
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