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IT shops losing control over technology

Jaikumar Vijayan | April 30, 2014
IT consumerisation exacerbates shift in tech spending.

A global survey of more than 1,000 C-level executives shows that IT organizations are losing control over new technology adoption at their companies but are still held accountable for integrating the technologies securely into their company's infrastructure.

Increasingly, spending and control of technology budgets are moving out of traditional IT organizations, the survey commissioned by technology consulting firm Avanade found.

Non-IT departments control more than 37% of enterprise technology spending, and that number is likely to grow over the next few years. Some 71% of C-level executives believe they can make technology decisions more quickly and effectively than IT organizations, the survey found.

The trend, driven by the growing availability of cloud services, mobile technology and the overall consumerization of IT, is fueling some real tension between IT organizations and the broader business.

"What's interesting about the survey is that people still trust IT," said Matt Joe, chief technology innovation officer at Avanade. Business units still want to partner with the IT group and would like to tap into its skills and expertise when adopting new technologies.

However, what they clearly do not want to do is wait around for IT, Joe said.

The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research for Avanade, a managed service provider owned by Accenture and Microsoft. The research firm, which used an email invitation and an online survey of C-level executives, business unit leaders and IT decision makers, was conducted between Feb. 10 and Feb. 26.

One in five companies already has a chief digital officer who is separate from the CIO. At some companies, chief marketing officers are just as likely to be considered for the role as a technology expert.

"It really is a patience thing. Do you want to wait for IT or do you want to light up Azure yourself? Is it going to be faster and easier going to a [third-party] to build a mobile app, or do you do it in house?" Joe said.

The situation poses some tricky challenges for IT organizations. While many would like to innovate, they continue to be bogged down with the need to keep the existing infrastructure running. The survey found that IT staffs spend some 36% of their time managing and maintaining legacy systems. Not surprisingly, fewer than one in four of the respondents said IT suggested new or innovative technology projects of their own.

What has emerged is the need for a sort of two-speed IT organization -- one that manages the legacy work while also being nimble and innovative enough to accommodate technology change at the speed of business, Joe said.

The best way for IT to remain relevant in the rapidly transforming enterprise is to become technology adviser and services broker.


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