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."