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decentralized IT
Thought Leadership

How Decentralized IT is Evolving the Role of CIO

By Ciri Haugh | December 10, 2019

Thanks to software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offerings, individual lines of business are increasingly making their own technology purchasing decisions in organizations around the globe. This is confirmed in the new report by IDG Connect and Snow Software, What Decentralized IT Means for the CIO's Role. As cloud adoption skyrockets, so does decentralized IT and subsequently, technology procurement processes and responsibility. If it hasn’t fully hit your organization yet, it’s only a matter of time as users demand more control over their productivity tools.

What does this mean for the role of CIO?

Opportunities: Time for Higher Level Thinking

In the new report, 67 percent of IT leaders say at least half of their spend is now controlled by individual business units. Furthermore, 78 percent agree this is good for their business in a large part because it allows them and their organization to become more agile and innovative. How? More than half (54 percent) of IT leaders consider the shift to mean more time for focusing on strategy and commanding more boardroom attention. Forty-six percent think the move will free them up to better find and analyze the usage and cost of technologies.

On multiple fronts, decentralized IT is a more strategic approach to managing technology and a better partner to comprehensive digital transformation initiatives. It allows the CIO to better align technology with individual business requirements, thereby improving user satisfaction, ensures greater visibility into the entire IT estate, and encourages the trusted-advisor role that other business leaders are looking for. With decentralized IT, CIOs are better able to serve as an innovation partner that can further organizational goals.

In fact, 96 percent report they are already being judged on IT’s effectiveness in driving business growth over IT operational measures.

Concerns: Complexity and Compliance

A common concern surrounding decentralized IT, however, is the struggle to manage that which you don’t control. It’s a valid concern of course, but surmountable.

Rising cloud spend can equate to integration challenges with legacy software and the new report found 62 percent of respondents are concerned about such complexity. Even more worrisome for most though – 89 percent – is the threat of software vendor audits for licensed usage within IaaS environments. If you aren’t the purchaser, how will you get your arms fully around what’s being implemented? With annual vendor audits more commonplace or not, this is a critically important issue to address.

What to Do Next

Mitigating such concerns starts with your process and your process must be rooted in ample visibility. To manage both cost and usage, you need accurate visibility into what’s being purchased, when, for whom, for how much, and for what purpose. Visibility should form the foundation on which cost optimization and risk reduction efforts can be built.

Users. The first step toward better visibility should begin not with infrastructure, but your users. Understanding who they are and the generation they are a part of will tell you more about how they prefer to consume technology. Spend time talking with them about what they hope for and their ideas for change. It will be eye-opening for your IT procurement program and it will boost your partnership with the business units.

Read: The Rise of the Digital Native and the Implications for IT Organizations

Technology. While you’re talking with staff, you should also be identifying all the tools in your environment, including hardware, software and applications, and create a complete inventory. This will provide the insight needed for audits not to mention put you in a better position to address inevitable cybersecurity risk.

With visibility of your users and your IT estate, you can make more informed decisions about required action and set it in motion. Snow for SaaS can help you find unused accounts, duplicate users and unnecessary premium subscriptions, to name a few. More importantly, your work will likely result in tighter cost controls, a change in cost allocations and/or better forecasting for the upcoming year.

With the proper governance controls in place, CIOs can embrace cloud adoption led by individual lines of business while also ensuring they account for cost and compliance. This is where the balance of overseeing IT operations and perpetuating organizational growth by digital transformation lives.

To learn more about the effects of decentralized IT on the CIO role, download our new survey.