Bringing IT up to business speed. Part 1: A changing relationship

In the first of a series of three posts James Tay, CEO, Logicalis Asia, explains why a growing impatience for transformational IT services in the enterprise is forging a new relationship between IT and business.

Until now, enterprise IT services have been delivered at their own speed – specifically, at the rate at which the IT department has been able to deploy them. If sales had to wait for the capabilities it needed, it had to wait. If marketing had to soldier on for a while longer with its existing market analysis tools, that's the way it was.

But the world has changed, and expectations in the enterprise have changed too.

These days business is more impatient than ever - spurred on by seamless and instant deployment we all now experience as smartphone users.

Business has always been impatient of course. It's in its nature. Innovation, competitive advantage and sustained growth are the fruits of properly harnessed impatience. The business needs new capability to develop its products, deliver its services, serve its customers, manage its partners and enable its people – and it needs it NOW.

The difference today is that consumerisation of tech gives rise to the expectation that those capabilities can be delivered now. Not in a week or a month. Right now.

All of which leaves the IT department in a bit of a bind: Still largely supporting all that legacy technology and infrastructure, still burdened by an old school IT department culture and, as a result, largely unable to deliver new systems and functionality at the pace that the business needs to consume them.

The hard truth is that this disconnect between expectation and capability is changing the relationship between business and IT.

Business managers can access digital services via the cloud on their mobile devices, tablets and laptops, and realise the benefits in an instant. So, when they need to adapt quickly to market forces, launch a new product, or gain deeper customer insights, they expect the capability they need to be delivered at the speed of business. And if their IT department is unable to respond at that speed, they can choose to buy it elsewhere.

The growth in cloud-based infrastructure and application services in recent years means that business consumers are being bombarded with a massive choice of new functionality and capability directly from specialist service providers.

In the global Logicalis CIO Survey last year, we found that nearly two-thirds of CIOs said their line-of-business managers would make the decision about IT purchases in the coming years. These findings might suggest that the IT department is about to lose control. In fact the opposite is true; the IT department is set to gain even greater control. But, to do that, it will need to make an important transition.

The relationship between IT and its core platforms must change too.

To deliver the services the business needs at the speed it demands, it will need to adopt a Service Defined Infrastructure model which will enable the IT department to switch its focus from a physical fix to policy driven service provisioning and decision making.

IT will then gain the visibility, agility and control it needs to deliver new capabilities to its customers at the speed of business; with more and more services directly linked to business policies. New instrumentation and control software will enable both IT and the business to monitor the availability, security, and cost of services. And it will enable resources to be provisioned at the push of a button. Logicalis describes this model as a move to 'IT by Wire'.

That’s not a model that many businesses, or IT departments, will be able to adopt overnight. It demands a significant rethink of IT infrastructure and wider strategies and, perhaps more importantly, a cultural change – a new way of thinking about the role of IT departments.

The next two blogs in this series will look in turn at each of these issues – starting with ‘A new infrastructure’ in part 2.

Tags IT Leadership, IT leaders, IT trends, CIO, converged infrastructure, IT Trends, IT executives, Collaboration, Business Strategy, collaboration