Over the last two weeks, Gartner has held its annual ITFPAM (IT, Finance, Procurement & Asset Management) conferences in the United States and United Kingdom. If there was a key message, it was that the Business has quite definitely issued divorce proceedings against the IT function and is already enjoying life as a singleton again.
Like many divorcees, the Business wants a fresh start, an opportunity to embrace change, to be in the right position to seize opportunities and determine its own fate. And, unfortunately for IT, the Business thinks that it is better off alone, no longer reliant on its long-term partner to provide the stability, services and guidance.
It’s what we at Snow have referred to for the past year as ‘The Disruption Gap’. Gartner doesn’t call it that, but the message and the result is the same:
IT is left in a difficult position.
IT and its CIO leadership face an agonising decision. Accept that they’re no longer relevant and resign themselves to their extinction. Or reimagine their purpose in life and work on new ways to add value to the Business so that, while the divorce may be absolute, a new relationship can be established.
The various analysts from Gartner were unanimously clear: accept and embrace the change. There really is no turning back and it is IT that has to change (perhaps a classic case of “it’s you, not me”).
The reasons for the divorce proceedings are clear and well-documented. The explosion in mobile, SaaS and IaaS offerings has empowered the Business with a technology liberation never before seen. As Businesses seek to bring new services and products to market in record time, they no longer feel the need to seek approval of, or wait for project delivery from, IT. They can work directly with SaaS and IaaS vendors to stand-up new software and systems in hours or days, and they can pay for these new technologies from opex with no need to wait for quarterly or annual budget allocation cycles.
All of which leaves IT feeling somewhat isolated and perhaps even a little useless.
But they shouldn’t. Because IT’s role is changing. And this was the good news from the ITFPAM conferences in Nashville and London.
As the technology spending power shifts from IT to the Business, IT professionals need to become agents of transformation, rather than blockers to progress. They need to use their unique position of having complete visibility of all technology adoption across the enterprise to provide a new value to the organization.
That value can come in several forms, but some of the key topics discussed at Gartner ITFPAM included:
- Cost control – as more Business Units stand-up new software and technology, so cost escalates. Most organizations accept that is necessary, but no CFO worth their salt accepts cost without justification. The IT team is perfectly-placed to help the CFO ensure that all cost incurred is ‘good cost’ (justified, adding business value).
- Speed of technology adoption – rather than being a blocker to new technologies, IT can accelerate new technology adoption by streamlining processes to stand-up SaaS and IaaS services as well as represent multiple Business Units with common interests.
- Keeping the lights on – not the most glamorous of responsibilities for IT, but a fundamental requirement. This is even more important as new technologies integrate with legacy systems, creating both dependencies and potential risks (such as SAP Indirect Access).
- Looking at the bigger picture – Armed with visibility of what’s happening across multiple Business Units, IT can start to better understand where it can offer ‘brokerage’ services to help create a more suitable infrastructure and more advantageous agreements with suppliers currently being engaged on an ad hoc basis.
The Gartner ITFPAM sessions delivered by analysts were clear. The divorce between the Business and IT need not be acrimonious and actually presents an excellent opportunity for those already involved in delivering ITAM, ITSM, SAM and IT operations.
As IT moves away from ‘mammoth projects’ to delivering smaller, more nimble ‘products’, so it can re-earn the trust of the Business and form an even closer working relationship. And as it does this, it can increase its value to the CFO and the board by providing the risk and cost control that is so desperately needed as organizations diversify their technology spends.
It certainly didn’t escape my notice that, during Sanil Solanki’s presentation on the Top Ten Ways to Optimize IT, information about the assets, entitlements, vendor agreements and user behaviours featured in nearly every one of the ten recommendations.
Organizations using technologies like Snow are sat on a goldmine of information. Previously that information has provided a strong ROI (a phrase we’re no longer allowed to use according to Gartner VP, Andy Kyte, who insists that IT needs to be able to prove Business Value going forward) in terms of reducing the risk and cost associated with software. Going forward, that value is not restricted to software and will empower IT leaders to help ensure that all technology assets are optimized in terms of cost and business benefit.
If you missed Snow at the Nashville and London Gartner ITFPAM shows, why not schedule a 20-minute conversation today to say how your organization can address the Disruption Gap being caused by the split between IT and the Business.