CIOs Must Fight for Relevance, Logicalis Says

By Doug Barney January 01, 2014

CIOs emerged as a force in the 90’s so much so that several magazines were devoted to them. And CIOs are still pretty much the top of the IT heap. But the cloud is changing all that. With the cloud one can spin up and app as easy as ordering a Starbucks Mocha Grande.

This puts power in the hands of line of business managers who understand their business application needs and with the help of the cloud can take care of them themselves.

Logicalis is on the case, and based on research is now advising CIOs to get a handle on cloud services, serve these lines of business folks, or forever lose their influence.

The warning is inspired by CIOs themselves.

“Sixty percent of CIO respondents agreed that line-of-business managers will gain more power over IT decision making in the next three to five years – a trend driven by the growing availability of externally available cloud services and expectations for technology and application consumerization,” the company said. “The study also showed that CIOs are acutely aware of the growing need to play a more strategic role within their organizations. While some are actively working to confront the challenge of legacy operational costs and drive services-led technology and operational transformation in order to reshape the IT function, many admit they are still struggling with day-to-day IT management tasks.”

While the notion of CIOs is they are almost exclusively strategic, the dirty truth is many are almost purely in the trenches doing tactical work. CIOs want this to change, with 73 percent wanting to move to spending more than half of their work time on strategic, rather than grunt tasks. “In reality, over half of the CIOs and IT directors queried currently spend 70 percent or more of their time on the day-to-day management of technology, while 80 percent spend at least half of their time on low-value, non-strategic activities,” the report found.

The Upscaling of IT

One way to become more strategic is to move to managed services. And those that do use managed services want to make them easier and more efficient. Nearly a third would like to reduce the numbers of MSPs they work with, and 30 percent want to increase the use of managed services.

“These findings confirm the reality we see on the ground,” says Ian Cook, CEO of Logicalis Group. “IT leadership is now actively looking for a services-led transformation strategy that will re-align from a technology-defined function to one that is services-defined. But CIOs are not only looking to transform their IT systems.  We interpret these common themes as CIOs striving to change the way IT is perceived by the wider organization.  Who wants to run a business function that line-of-business managers think is less agile and less relevant than external providers? Clearly these CIOs are taking a proactive approach to staying relevant, focused on a transformation agenda across all aspects of IT infrastructure, operations and the end-user experience.”

Major researchers are also all over this issue of CIO relevance and cloud and managed services. “We predict that business innovation focused on creating a wider variety of solutions targeted at new business opportunities and challenges will drive a profound shift in the role of the IT organization,” says Chris Barnard, Associate Vice President at IDC. “Enterprise IT groups cannot afford any longer to be just watching, studying, exploring, or experimenting with cloud services, mobile devices, social technologies, or the other core elements of what we call the 3rd platform. They must develop deep competence in all of these technologies, often with the help of third parties with expertise in ‘as-a-service’ strategies.”

Logicalis On-Demand

The infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market is so hot everyone wants in, and Logicalis is no exception. The MSP and IT service provider has a new pitch for IaaS customers -- The Logicalis On-Demand Cloud.

This IaaS is based on the public cloud, is multi-tenant and self-managed. “Complete with basic levels of self-management, infrastructure monitoring, provisioning, storage and security, the Logicalis On-Demand Cloud offers a dynamic, yet reliable infrastructure to companies needing temporary compute resources. It gives CIOs a natural evolutionary path to a production cloud environment as needed without a long-term commitment,” the company said.

Nemertes Sees MSPs at the New Trusted Advisors

A white paper ‘Shift to “Enterprise Technology” Relies Upon Vendor Partners for Managed, Cloud Services’ by Robin Gareiss, Founder and Executive Vice President of Nemertes Research argues that enterprises are moving from Information Technology (IT) driven to Enterprise Technology (ET) focused. So what does changing one word mean? Plenty, according to Gareiss.

“Not only does this shift change the way business leaders View IT, it also alters the organizational structure of IT itself. In the ET world, the technology Team becomes more strategic, and as a result, it relies more heavily on trusted partners to handle tactical functions—and in some cases, assist in strategic direction of the company,” she argues.

This is great news for partners, particularly those with managed services and the expertise to go along with them. “Managed and cloud services are playing an increasingly important role in enterprise organizations, with the network itself serving as the foundation for effective and strategic ET policy. IT leaders must define a new operating model that allows for innovation and adapts to the changes in the business climate and in the demand for services.”

As businesses require IT departments to do more, including be a strategic partner, IT can’t do it all. “ET requires a transformation in how the internal staff thinks, reacts, and creates, along with a stronger reliance on technology partners through managed and cloud services,” Gareiss believes.

The technology leaders essentially become “trusted advisors” to the business units, advising on how technology can solve problems or create opportunities. At the same time, vendor partners become “trusted advisors” to both business and technology providing technology and competitive context, advising on strategy developments, helping to uncover new, relevant technologies, and assisting with pilots, deployment, and operations. 

TechZone360 Editor at Large

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