Businesses look outside IT department for technology disruption

A third of UK non-IT business units are increasingly contracting with their own technology vendors, a new study reveals.

Almost two thirds (60 per cent) of UK business leaders believe the management of technology disruption is shifting away from IT to other departments, as lines of business take charge of technology-led innovation in UK organisations, according to new research from VMware, a cloud service provider.

The research among 200 IT decision makers and heads of lines of business finds that this decentralisation of IT is delivering real business benefits: the ability to launch new products and services to market with greater speed (56 per cent), giving the business more freedom to drive innovation (63 per cent) and increasing responsiveness to market conditions (59 per cent).

There are also positives from a skills perspective, with the shift in technology disruption ownership beyond IT to the broader business seen to increase employee satisfaction (53 per cent) and help attract better talent (37 per cent).

This move, however, is not without its challenges. Leaders from across the business believe this is causing a duplication of spend on IT services (63 per cent), a lack of clear ownership and responsibility for IT (62 per cent) and the purchasing of un-secure solutions (59 per cent).

Welcome to mainstream IT

Furthermore, this decentralisation movement is happening against the wishes of IT teams, the majority (67 per cent) of which want IT to become more centralised. In particular, IT leaders feel that core functions like network security and compliance (79 per cent), disaster recovery/business continuity (46 per cent) and storage (39 per cent) should remain in their control.

‘It’s ‘transform or die’ for many businesses, with a tumultuous economic environment and radically evolved competitive landscape upturning the way they operate,’ says Joe Baguley, vice president & chief technology officer, EMEA, VMware.

Baguley thinks that managing this change is the great organisational challenge companies face. The rise of the cloud has democratised IT, with its ease of access and attractive costing models, so it’s no surprise that lines of business have jumped on this opportunity.

He says, ‘Too often, however, we’re seeing this trend left unchecked and without adequate IT governance, meaning that organisations across EMEA are driving up costs, compromising security and muddying the waters as to who does what, as they look to evolve.’

The ownership for driving innovation within organisations is not disputed among business leaders. Almost four in five (77 per cent) believe that IT should enable the lines of business to drive innovation, but must set the strategic direction and be accountable for security – highlighting the balance to be struck between the central IT function retaining control while also allowing innovation to foster in other, separate areas of the business.

‘This isn’t ‘Shadow IT’ anymore, that’s yesterday’s story – this is now ‘Mainstream IT’,’ continues Baguley.

‘The technology disruption movement is happening, driven by the need for speed in today’s business world: we’ve never seen such a desire for new, immediately available applications, services and ways of working. By recognising these changes are happening, and adapting to them, IT can still be an integral part of leading this charge of change.’

George Wraith, head of ICT at New College Durham, also supports this view and says, ‘Business models are being disrupted by the movement of IT services to outside the IT department. This is leading to cost, management and security inefficiencies.

‘This technology disruption trend is not going away, and gives IT the opportunity to adapt, regain control and embrace it.’

Further reading on disruption

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Disruption

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