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Money buys influence, as well as IT services

Gavin Payne

In the past, the IT departments bought an organisation’s IT services. In the future, they’ll also need funding from business units so they can afford to deploy the new services they want as well as modernise those they want to keep. Along with their cash though comes the expectation of influence over how it gets spent. That could cause chaos with strategic IT planning.

Do more but with the same money

Times are certainly changing in IT. Not only have most of the megavendors adopted a cloud only, rather than a cloud first, strategy but even the slowest adopters of new technologies are beginning to realise their n-tier applications are becoming dated. While modernisation of IT systems brings benefits, sometimes enough to turnaround a business’s fortunes, they come at a cost.

In Gartner’s recent 2016 IT spending update (http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3368517), it identified three significant IT strategy and spending trends:

  • Businesses increasingly expect their IT capabilities to become fully digital capabilities(Agile/Cloud/Mobile/Social/etc.) by the end of this decade.
  • IT departments aren’t getting any extra funding to pay for this modernisation.
  • Business units are going to have to spend their own money to help fund new IT services, but in return want a say on what their money is spent on.

So in summary:

  • Modernise what you’re already providing
  • Start providing new capabilities
  • Don’t expect any more money

Finding the money

The eras of Bring Your Own Device and Shadow IT showed IT departments that innovation can’t be ignored. If there’s a better capability out there than what IT departments are offering, then business units or staff will spend their own money implementing it. Whether or not integrating the technologies those trends introduced into the organisation’s IT strategy was planned is irrelevant. They have to be otherwise the organisation’s IT strategy gets relegated to being just IT’s strategy.

Disruption of strategic IT planning then is likely to become the norm. Especially when IT departments on their own can’t afford to deploy the new IT services that business units want. In yesteryear, business units got told to use what they got given. A bit like when parents buy their children shoes they don’t like and tell them that they can buy the shoes they like when they’re old enough. Now though, the children are adults and old enough to pick their own shoes.

Expect non-standard to become the new standard

In the near future then when business units will need to start contributing their own money towards new IT systems, every investment decision could soon become the best choice for that business unit’s isolated requirement, rather than an IT department’s tactically weaker but strategically stronger alternative choice. Deploying, integrating and managing a range of applications from a range of vendors is likely to become the new norm. Otherwise, the polish and duster needs to come out for those aging n-tier systems!

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