What is the State of IT? (aka The Big Lever - Part 3)

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What is the State of IT? (aka The Big Lever - Part 3)

Posted by Don Casson

Thu, Aug 28, 2014

What is the state of IT in all this? The 22-year-old guy coming out of the garage armed with AWS, SaaS, Github and social media may be getting ready to transform your business. 55 guys at WhatsApp had 500 million customers paying a dollar a year for a killer messaging application and sold for $17 billion dollars to Facebook.

The State of IT Broken Computer Keyboard image

(This is part three in a series written by Evergreen CEO Don Casson. If you are interested in reading it all at once,  follow this link to download the whole document, "The Big Lever - How to Go from Yesterday to Tomorrow Faster.")

What is the State of IT?

Enterprise IT is in a tough spot. 30 years of the Client/Server paradigm with its incredible complexity and inflexibility, an order of magnitude increase in regulatory oversight/governance and a decade+ of declining budgets have created a big problem. Enterprise IT is deeply siloed, incredibly complex, highly manual, process bound, inwardly focused and risk adverse.

Perhaps the most worrisome, the culture of IT has been shaped by this experience over the last 30 years. The skills, experience, outlook, management and even leadership reflect this. Consider the following:

  • The skills sought are deeply technical and analytical in nature.
  • The experiences in career progression are higher and higher order of complex, technology problem solving and project execution.
  • The outlook is conservative, measured, procedural and risk adverse.
  • Measures of IT quality and performance are operational-level metrics rather than business-outcome based.
  • Management measures, and is measured, by excellence in technical execution.
  • IT leadership is often just a higher abstraction of IT management.
  • Skills, experience, management and leadership in innovation, risk taking, creativity, customer experience and delivering business value are lacking.

A big gap exists between what executives in the business and executives in IT value. According to a September 2013 survey of CFOs, CMOs and CIOs done by Forrester Consulting on behalf of the Technology Business Management (TBM) Council:

"There was a remarkable variance in what the business leaders wanted to measure and what CIOs thought was important to measure. First, the good news: Five of the top 10 KPIs for business leaders were also in the top 10 KPIs for CIOs. But, unfortunately, four of the top 10 things business leaders wanted to measure were not on the CIO radar. The three specific areas where CIOs missed the boat were IT performance against business financials, IT's contribution to new ideas, and external customer satisfaction."

In fact, four of the top ten things business executives want measured were not even in the CIO's top 20 list!

In our transformation consulting, we first focus on defining the business problem and whether it's worth solving. Every project has to have a clear economic and strategic basis. While this seems hard to believe, eight out of ten times clients will actually fight efforts to prove the value, define the business problem up front and build economic and strategic support.

IT doesn't lack intelligent, highly skilled people. After 30 years of near total focus on complex technology outcomes, what they lack is skills and experience to deliver business (and customer) outcomes.

Even the statement "We want to deliver IT as a Service" when viewed by IT gets lost to mean providing an easier way to provision servers or patch software, neither of which would likely be seen as a service by anyone outside of IT. In other words, IT sees it as another way to package what they already do, rather than see it from the customer's perspective. The goal is a good one, perhaps it should be stated to "Deliver Services That Are IT Enabled."

IT faces an unprecedented rate of change, which its culture, skills, experience, management and leadership are unprepared for.

More to come in Part 4...or read it now in the complete paper by Don Casson, The Big Lever - free download.

Photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_mo-fo/3570580386/">Mr Mo-Fo</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Topics: Cloud Management, Cloud Delivered Services, IT Consulting, ITSM, IT as a Service, ITSM Strategy

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