I am not sure if it’s the time of the year for surveys, a sign of impending worry about 2008 as a potentially tough business year, or maybe a year of technology change, but there are a lot of surveys about. Gartner’s Massimiliano Claps has a pretty through and structured approach out on how to approach cost cutting complete with what he refers to as a ‘Cost Reduction Score Card’ so if you are looking for technology driven improvements it’s a good starting point in my opinion. I have also seen the draft of the Capgemini CIO survey due out in March, and this shows many CIOs to be rather concerned with the way their role, and that of the IT department in the enterprise is, or should change, in response to using some of the new technologies as business tools.
However, the most interesting one for me came from Information Age publication on Effective IT under the title of ‘Effective IT 2008’ sub titled ‘the technologies and services behind today’s most dramatic business success stories’. This is a definite must to take a moment to go through because it asks two questions and compares the answers:

  • what are your priorities?
  • how effective has been your deployment?

And it’s the latter that is so interesting and frankly not usual to find in a survey.
This was based on them surveying exactly what CIOs had chosen to adopt in 2007, and starts the first surprise with only four of the top ten priorities, or intentions, for 2007 adoption actually having been carried out:

  • Mobility
  • Help Desk Mgt
  • IP Infrastructure
  • Server Automation

two were not even listed at all let alone given a priority in the 2007 list

  • Collaboration
  • ITIL

and the remaining four were listed but not in the top ten priorities:

  • Virtualisation
  • Standardisation
  • Thin Clients
  • and the key last one? The appointment of an IT to Business Manager to handle the changing relationship.

No wonder the Capgemini CIO survey shows that CIOs are worrying about the next year or so and roles.
Take the list of the ten most effective things that CIOs think they did in 2007, remove Standardisation for development, and all the remaining nine in one way, or other, are linked to the way people want to use IT, and most probably new technologies in the business. Some are directly linked like Collaboration with most the consequences of deploying and supporting, i.e. Mobility, Software as a Service, IP Infrastructure, ID management, etc. What we call at Capgemini the ‘Hidden Infostructure’ meaning a complex set of abilities that allow extreme ‘agility’ in users working practices.
Turn it the other way around: look at the ten least effective things? Mostly the worthy IT driven activities from open source, to portfolio management, information life cycle management, even offshore and outsourcing, are all in the list plus the interesting addition of the ‘formal deployment’ of Web 2.0.
My conclusion, taken with the discussions CIOs and Business Managers, is that operating the traditional IT for the Back office well does not win any prizes, or even interest, from the business end, it’s just an expectation that it will be there and working. The users are now driving the IT department in a different direction and the rewards are for doing things that directly support what they want, and it seems to be less about applications and more about ‘collaboration’ and ‘mobility’. All of this represents a ‘new’ set of challenges, and if the survey is to be believed, relatively unexpected in the planning cycle for 2007. No wonder CIOs turned for help to ITIL which came from nowhere in the 2007 priorities to being the eighth most popular adoption in 2007 and presumably led to appointing an IT Business Manager to handle the introduction.
It seems that the expectations of the business are changing; yup must run what you have now well and keep costs down but don’t expect prizes for ‘doing your job’. Instead the pace seems to be fast enough to be forcing change in planned IT strategies, as well as actually planned IT projects, towards doing direct support for users who want to change their working patterns. This seems to be where IT will be ‘marked’ by the business as to whether or not you are meeting ‘expectations’ ‘effectively’. Mmm, easy to say, but cost based optimisation of IT does not sit well with delivering new technologies into challenging new environments, no wonder we see a significant number of IT departments needing a new role to set expectations realistically!
Seems to be the time to read ITIL very carefully indeed, and decide how it might provide what I call an ‘enabling’ framework between IT and the Business to lay out some structure for both to work within for a testing year ahead.