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12/12/2012
02:31 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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6 Ways IT Still Fails The Business

IT leaders should prepare their teams to avoid these mistakes in 2013.

7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths
7 Dumb Cloud Computing Myths
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
2. IT Budgeting Is Unrealistic

When we asked 453 IT pros about 16 different project types, the majority described the same funding scenario for every one of them: It will increase IT costs in the short term but decrease operating costs long-term.

That strikes us as, well, nonsense, and it led us to this cover story about raising IT's credibility problem. Of course, IT projects such as a private cloud infrastructure absolutely must follow this model. So when 63% say cloud infrastructure will cause a short-term increase in capital spending and about two-thirds say it'll mean long-term capital savings and operational savings, it makes sense. But the 50% who think deploying mobile device management will lead to overall cost savings sound optimistic.

Deploying a new software platform to support a new tier of mobile devices, be they employee- or company-owned, sounds like a solid strategic move to engage employees and help them collaborate, but it also sounds like a tough cost savings plan. Likewise, building a big data business intelligence or decision-support system is seen as a cost saver by 73% of companies. Likely a smart investment, but it seems as likely to be an expense that lets the company spot revenue opportunities -- something less than one-third envision.

Jonathan Feldman writes, "It's hard not to read the survey data and think of anything but unbridled optimism. But it's not grounded in reality. … Everyone's going to spend in the short run but save in the long run." Feldman offers additional insight into budgets in a recent article that found 4 of 10 companies either don't have an IT governance board or it has little influence on IT spending.

3. IT Is Too Slow

Asked if their organization was "distributed, agile, and flexible," a slim majority of IT pros -- 57% -- agree. In contrast, barely one-fourth -- 27% -- of businesspeople outside IT agree. It's a glaring gap, one of the worst differences in perception between IT and non-IT employees in our InformationWeek survey of IT Perception.

We sounded this alarm almost two years ago. The reality is that IT will never be fast enough. Marketing will always want projects yesterday. Technology is too essential and moves too fast.

The key element is this: When business units decide to move fast, do they consider IT a partner that will help a project get done more quickly? Do they trust IT to help find the right outside developers, if needed, to steer through the security and compliance concerns with practical answers that balance speed and market pressure as well as risk?

More companies are creating customer-facing apps and embedded software as part of their products. If CIOs are going to be part of developing those products, speed will be key. As Vail Resorts CIO Robert Urwiler puts it, "An 18-month plan is not an appropriate plan. We need to be able to spin things up very quickly."

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CentralScrutinizer01
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CentralScrutinizer01,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/25/2013 | 2:39:42 PM
re: 6 Ways IT Still Fails The Business
To humberger972, Amen brother. And I've seen it where, even when IT is involved from the beginning, all other departments get all the time they need to get comfortable with their part and then turn over to IT. Then IT gets 2 weeks to do 2 months of work.
humberger972
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humberger972,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/18/2013 | 6:07:29 PM
re: 6 Ways IT Still Fails The Business
I've seen this so many times. Business has been working on a project for a year, then they give it to IT and they are meant to put it together in a month.... shouldn't it have been business's responsibility to bring IT in from the beginning? They think we take to long, because from their point of view the project is a year old, but IT only found out about their piece last week.....

OR funding goes to the businesses, or the business starts using drop box, or some other product - since they can buy what they want, and auditors come in and have a cow, send it to legal and business is given a talking to, next thing you know it is all back in IT. Because business is ok with complaining that IT always says no to stuff, but they are scared of audit/Legal. The business groups drive to the bottom line, and what is easiest. IT drives to what is legal, and supportable long term -- and the two clash, and they should.

The failure is with the C list executives who can't keep the balance between the natural clash of priorites between departments. It is up to the C list to find creative solutions to the tensions, and find points of opportunities in the clash.
TanK203
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TanK203,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/4/2013 | 4:31:43 PM
re: 6 Ways IT Still Fails The Business
I saw this article a few days ago and I have been steaming about it for a few days now. I am quite disgusted with this article and how it portrays IT. I believe you are wrong on every point you have made, starting with your opening remarks about how one of the things IT is doing right is "Cloud".
Just because you use dropbox at home and are amazed at how easily you can access these files from any computer doesn't mean that it is right for all businesses. You'll notice in the survey you took, the most important IT project for 2013 is data security. What you fail to understand is that IT's First responsibility is data security and integrity. Use of cloud services in many cases forces IT departments to literally give up that security and put it in the hands of a cloud service provider. The problem is that you sit here and complain that you can't use a service like dropbox for your work data but you do not realize the reasons as to why.
What you need to understand is that IT's responsibility is not to give their users every single toy and fun new feature that is released, IT's responsibility is to maintain data security and integrity. Things like mobile devices, cloud services, remote access, BYOD all are security risks. IT departments need to weigh the risks and decide on how to react to these changes, but again security and integrity are paramount. If that means you can't use your new iphone on the company wireless, then that's what it means.
IT departments are generally under-staffed, under-budgeted, and under-appreciated yet we still maintain the infrastructure needed for our users to access the data they need to. Are their sometimes better solutions available? yes, but that does not mean that IT should jump on the bandwagon. Instead of pointing the finger at IT and yelling foul because you can't use a popular cloud service that would theoretically make your life easier if you could use it at work, instead investigate as to why IT has not implemented that new feature or toy you want. I believe you would be surprised as to just how complicated and/or difficult it can be to implement.
My suggestion, start your research for this article over, but this time, spend your time with your IT department and find out from them why these bad perceptions and road-blocks exist.
dwwright99
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dwwright99,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/2/2013 | 7:06:01 PM
re: 6 Ways IT Still Fails The Business
Maybe it is time (actually, has been for a long time) that "IT" is no longer positioned as being separate from the "business". We are all in the same business, making our organizations successful. What an organization needs is clear priority on what it wants to accomplish, and to organize its resources to do it. The problem is the continued use of the top-down org chart ; certainly you should acquire and support resources in like groups, but then cross-chart teaming of resources is needed to actually do something.

This is hard, the org chart continues to haunt us. ...but consider a military example. Armed forces are the essence of hierarchy in organizing resources, but when they are actually fighting, the concept of combined arms is critical; different types of resources fighting together. If the military can do this, why can't civilian organizations do it? I state that the best ones are, and pulling away from the rest.
Brian_Dickson
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Brian_Dickson,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/31/2012 | 1:07:16 PM
re: 6 Ways IT Still Fails The Business
An eye-catching title! IT is always too slow, or to be put another way, is never fast enough in the eyes of the areas they support. I agree that it's all about perceptions; The business thinks IT is slow and IT thinks their business partners don't provide accurate requirements or maintain realistic expectations...it's the classic scenario, similar to those faced in other business support functions like marketing.

I see a plethora of articles that speak to all the known issues between IT and the business, such as lacking trust or perceptions, but I rarely see anyone speak as to the "how" to address them.

From my experience this is where excellent product and project management come into play, to set realistic expectations on what is possible and to ensure that the critical path is clearly identified and managed. Common ground in reporting is critical; IT reports on technical status can be meaningless to the business, so IT Leaders should spend some time understanding what is meaningful to the business and best sets those expectations and subsequently build a higher level of trust.

For more on setting expectations and other related articles, see http://wp.me/p2WJhb-1f

Brian K Dickson
Terry Bennett
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Terry Bennett,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/27/2012 | 11:32:20 PM
re: 6 Ways IT Still Fails The Business
Very good article, Chris. If we could point to the root cause of these failures, what would it be?

It seems that in far too many companies, IT is used as a cost-cutting engine, and IT's capability of generating revenue or of providing a competitive advantage are pushed to the back. When that occurs, innovation suffers, IT is siloed, and companies seem to be competing more on costs than anything else.

Is it possible that the root cause is that too often we in IT have focused either on the technology itself or on internal operations rather than on the overall business and the end customer?

What do you think?
Sacalpha1
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Sacalpha1,
User Rank: Strategist
12/20/2012 | 5:18:51 AM
re: 6 Ways IT Still Fails The Business
I would love to finally see some insightful articles that stop bashing IT and give some practical advice on how to better serve and partner with the business. This article defines only the what, which is quite obvious, and none of the how. Using one of the 6 main points of the article, how about flipping some of this around and discuss how if Marketing is to partner with IT it needs documented and executable processes, needs to admit to process and systems integration issues, needs to stop throwing darts at the wall and have analytics based marketing campaigns, should have marketing plans laid out in advance so there is lead time to deliver technology required, and needs to ask for a realistic number of initiatives (considering overall company demand) that are business case justified and tracked. More often than not, Marketing will request 50 projects with a few weeks to months lead time and then when IT does not deliver it is not flexible enough or quick enough. It's a fundamentally ridiculous request and if any other business function was asked to deliver this in support of Marketing, other than IT, there would not even be any questions. Marketing's request would be dismissed as knee jerk management without thought and would be summarily rejected by pick your function - Finance, HR, Manufacturing, etc. I think its time to turn the discussion to what changes and improvements are required in the various business functions to maximize the value of IT across the company. Sure, the IT org will have to make some changes, but a large number of changes and a high degree of maturity will be required by the other functions......so let's start to get that message out there instead of hopping on the beat up IT pile!
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
12/17/2012 | 5:07:01 PM
re: 6 Ways IT Still Fails The Business
Financial services are a good example for those in IT who fear that this shift of IT spending toward line of business leaders. Financial services is high on the list of best-paying industries in our IT salary survey; we see leaders who are in charge of IT and operations, since IT is inseparable from what the business does. IT organizations and titles will change, but the importance of information technology and the people who know how to apply it to running a business will only grow.
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/14/2012 | 3:19:28 PM
re: 6 Ways IT Still Fails The Business
I don't see this as a new trend -- LOB execs have played a key role in driving IT investments in financial services for some time now -- but it definitely is accelerating, especially as you say around the CMO/customer engagement function. And I agree that cloud is part of the mix -- that's part of the thinking behind the 2013 I&T Executive Summit theme of "Smarter, Closer, Faster: The 3 Keys to Competitive Advantage".
David Berlind
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David Berlind,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/14/2012 | 1:35:10 PM
re: 6 Ways IT Still Fails The Business
One of the trends we keep hearing about is how a lot of IT spending is going to shift away from IT to line of business leaders. The oft discussed example lives at the intersection of online, social (customer engagement), profiling, and cloud: the CMO. As more business get savvy about how to do mo' betta with the Internet and more data regarding customers and potential customers becomes available through those interactions, the responsibility of mining that resource to the benefit of the company is rapidly becoming the CMO's responsibility. Cloud plays a role in the mix in that the CMO and/or other line of business executives can more easily acquire solutions that stand up tot these and other challenges with minimal involvement from IT. However, when LOB execs due this absent of involvement from IT and other constituents, they run a greater risk of having problems down the line as the systems they pick need to align or integrate with choices being made elsewhere in the company.
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