5 tips to bring IT back into the boardroom

Technology is now embedded into every business model in every industry. But despite its fundamental role in ensuring business success, businesses are still witnessing a difference in the perception of IT between technology and management professionals.

Recent research by EMC uncovered the challenges and pressure on CIOs and their teams, and found many CIOs doubting the ability of their IT infrastructure to meet the long-term needs of the business.

Conversations with over 2,700 business and IT professionals across EMEA revealed CIOs feel a lack of control with their IT decision making.

>See also: Leading from the top – four ways CIOs have to take charge of digital transformation

Here are five recommendations of how IT leaders can claim back their control and demonstrate the relevance of IT in their business.

1. Refocus IT’s role away from ‘keeping the lights on’

IT’s traditional focus around ‘keeping the lights on’ allows the CIO little time to innovate or work to the same objectives as the rest of the business.

The EMC research paints a picture of the CIO in danger of becoming increasingly isolated and under-pressure – coping with the challenges of steadily rising expectations for IT, interference from colleagues in other roles, and a lack of common ground with the rest of the C-suite.

Two-thirds of CIOs, compared to just over half of business CxOs, think their IT professionals work in isolation from the rest of the business and often also from each other.

As technology becomes more embedded across the business, the marginalisation of IT is a danger which many business leaders are aware of.

Moving away from a ‘maintenance’ approach, towards a more self-sufficient IT infrastructure, can make it possible for IT teams to once again showcase their knowledge and become a driving force within business.

2. Be ready and willing to respond to change

In the study, three quarters of CIOs said in five years they will need to be able to launch new products, services and applications in half the time it takes them today, but 69% were concerned that business growth will quickly reveal weaknesses in existing IT.

In a 2014 report by Gartner, CIOs said they may hesitate to make digital business technologies part of IT’s responsibilities because they saw themselves as operations focused and not on emerging digital technologies.

IT is embedded in every role and process. There is a need for IT to be more agile than ever before, and to accommodate more IT decision makers across the boardroom.

Intelligent infrastructure will be key to enabling this, providing IT professionals with a foundation from which they can support the rest of the business as it grows.

3. Give IT the confidence to sit in the driving seat

As the role of IT grows in a business, confusion emerges about who is really setting the IT agenda. The survey highlighted that in many organisations, the power over technology decision-making is already shifting to other parts of the business.

In 39% of the companies surveyed, the IT agenda is set by functions other than IT and business, for example marketing (11%) and sales (10%).

This disconnect is seen in the boardroom, with 58% of CIOs convinced they have overall control over IT, while just 14% of business CxOs agree with them.

Furthermore, CIOs and CxOs each believe that they are the greatest driver of change (37% and 40% respectively) and that all other roles are resistant to change.

There are power struggles within the business that need to be addressed if IT is to reclaim technology leadership.

4. Put in place the right infrastructure to boost flexibility

If IT is to navigate these power struggles and reclaim technology leadership, it needs to be able to accommodate change.

To survive and thrive in a connected future, the business therefore needs to move from a traditional IT infrastructure to an integrated environment. This turns complex systems into software-based simplicity.

Unsurprisingly, over 80% of all business leaders agree that a scalable, flexible IT infrastructure will reduce risk by providing a solid foundation for business growth and innovation.

5. Nurture a flexible, commercially aware culture within IT

The IT function as a whole needs to adapt, professionally and culturally, to the concept of IT infrastructure as an advanced, on-demand utility it can use rather than manage.

The time saved not having to keep the operational lights on will enable IT professionals to share their expertise across the business. This, in turn, will reduce the risk of the marginalisation of IT as a whole.

>See also: How a CIO’s key decision-making moments can drive digital transformation

Technology is becoming more embedded in every business process, and as this trend develops, so does the opportunity for IT to become more relevant, aligned and integrated with business growth.

Investing in more flexible IT and powerful infrastructures, such as modernised converged data centres, will deliver the high performance, speed and agility businesses need.

Change is rarely easy, but managed, technology-supported change that makes everyone’s working lives smoother, will make the journey significantly more comfortable.

By addressing this, and the five points above, IT will be in a position to reclaim its voice in business.


Sourced from Nigel Moulton, CTO EMEA, EMC Converged Platforms

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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