You recognize your responsibility to advance the competency and maturity of your IT organization through technology (See: “Seek Innovation and Optimization in 2010 at the Intersection of Business and Technology”). The role of IT and leadership by the CIO have become more difficult as the complexity and abundance of technology have grown dramatically in the last decade; this decade will make current systems obsolete faster than ever before. But IT systems have to be more than cheaper and faster, becoming better and smarter in their ability to deliver value to the organization. Part of doing this is knowing what business needs from applications and tools, and that includes understanding how and what they are actually using – that is not always what IT thinks they are using, particularly now that renting applications via software as a service (SaaS) is growing, not to mention the custom applications and spreadsheets that dominate business use of technology. IT needs to examine these issues and make strategic decisions on buying and using software tools by looking at approaches beyond on-premises, such as open source and cloud computing through SaaS. Simultaneously it has to better understand business adoption of mobile technologies such as Apple iPhone and others that make business computing more accessible and simple regardless of support from IT.
The CIO and IT staff need to manage their portfolio of technology as a business asset, not a collection of systems vendors’ technologies and people who manage them. To get to this point we advise applying performance management to the IT function and establishing portfolio management and planning processes that use systems designed to support the complex needs of managing assets, projects, resources and tools. At the same time they have to better coordinate applications and tools for managing IT governance, risk and compliance (GRC) still need as extend them to finance and operations. To do this requires a portfolio of information-related tools and applications that can help do everything from information monitoring, security and search to eliminating the dependence on inefficient and risky spreadsheets and e-mail. Simultaneously IT needs to address its own sustainability efforts and treat it as an opportunity to reduce the cost and burden of technology for the business and our environment.
IT has been effective in advancing the art and science of information management and the use of data warehousing and business intelligence for the rest of the organization. But IT has not done a great job of using it in its own area of focus. Yet there are an array of useful types of tools to help in this process. It’s time to use analytics and metrics on IT data more efficiently in this role and responsibility. IT now has realized that investments into data governance and dedicated technology to support it, including data integration, data quality and master data management, are essential for managing data and content-related assets effectively. Being smart about the management of data requires deciding if the most intelligent processing and storage of data can come from dedicated appliances to reduce time and resources. The specialization of analytic databases also can help to operate specific aspects of the business. Harmonizing the management and integration of content and data assets into a full life cycle and an overall information demand-and-supply chain is mandatory. This foundation is important to provide trusted information from analytics and business intelligence along with applications for performance management. IT will need to understand that business has created a portfolio of quasi-applications using spreadsheets that in most organizations are the data skeletons in the closet yet to be found. To further innovate and advance, the IT organization will have to look at these and other improved approaches to enable business to be more responsive and able to keep up with the pace of business through the use of events in what we call Operational Intelligence. In addition the business demands geographic context with information and analytics – Location Intelligence, where new types of content and data from maps to competitive data can be stored and provided to these tools and applications.
Thus IT also has to look at technologies and approaches that go beyond its comfort zone or current methods of computing. Internally this includes streamlining through unified communications, which can optimize the use of voice and data over the Internet to enable simpler collaboration and interactions. Operating on top of this technology are new types of information applications that enable interaction and collaboration and directly support particular business activities and processes. IT also needs to think about how these new technologies work across the organization in terms of the competency and generational comfort with the use of technology.
This is a long list, but IT has a tremendous opportunity to have a positive influence on business by introducing new options and education that empower areas of the organization to drive forward.
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Mark Smith – CEO & EVP Research