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Business leaders who think strategically about IT infrastructure drive results

Thor Olavsrud | July 31, 2014
According to a new study by IBM, organisations with a strategic vision for IT infrastructure focused on driving competitive advantage and optimising revenue and profit tend to significantly outperform their peers.

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Credit: Getty Images

As a result of the confluence of disruptors such as cloud technology, mobile, social media, and big data and analytics, organizations today are rethinking their IT infrastructure from the ground up -- and it's not just IT architects and data center leaders involved.

Business leaders across the C-suite are looking to IT infrastructure as fundamental to driving competitive advantage and helping them optimize revenue and profit, and they are paying close attention, according to a new study by the IBM Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics. In the study, 40 percent of companies indicated that non-IT functions will be involved in making infrastructure decisions in areas such as end-user devices, security and cloud computing.

"You don't often see the foundation of a building, but we all know it's critically important," says Jacqueline Woods, co-author of the report and global vice president for Growth Solutions in the Systems and Technology Group at IBM. "IT infrastructure has that same intrinsic value."

"The biggest takeaway was the recognition that IT infrastructure enables competitive advantage," she adds. "It allows us to lean into workloads and the trends for analytics, mobile and social. When we're able to fully leverage those trends through technology, we get an advantage."

Even so, less than one-third of IT executives said they are effectively collaborating with line-of-business leaders to provide IT infrastructure solutions to support their business.

The study surveyed 750 IT executives -- CIOs, CTOs and other senior IT leaders -- in 19 industries and 18 countries.

The study found that more than 70 percent of senior IT executives perceive IT infrastructure as essential to enabling competitive advantage or optimizing revenue and profit. But even with that recognition, only about one-third of respondents felt their IT infrastructure was prepared to address the demands imposed by mobile technology, social media, big data and cloud computing. Fewer than 10 percent of companies reported that their IT infrastructure was fully prepared to meet the demands.

But a small cadre of companies told a different story. Dubbed "Strategic IT Connector" organizations in the study, these organizations rated themselves as excelling in at least three of five leading practices identified by IBM:

  • Establishing a well-defined enterprise IT infrastructure strategy and roadmap.
  • Collaborating effectively with the business to provide IT infrastructure solutions to support business needs (such as improving one-to-one customer engagement).
  • Using the IT function as a broker of technology services for the organization (for example, providing expertise to the business in selecting software-as-a-service and other cloud computing opportunities).
  • Supporting cross-functional teams of infrastructure domain experts to identify, source and implement IT infrastructure solutions.
  • Collecting, analyzing and documenting performance measures.

 

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