Technology Strategy is More Than an IT Function

By Steve Anderson March 11, 2014

While for the most part, many in a company likely look to information technology (IT) departments to determine overall technology strategy for a company, a new study reveals that that just isn't the case in a lot of companies, and there's quite a bit more determining how technology is used in a company than just the say-so of the IT department.

The study in question, staged by CA Technologies and titled “TechInsights Report: The Changing Role of IT and What to Do About It,” takes a look at the changes going on in the fundamental nature of IT departments, and how companies should react accordingly. Essentially, the study notes that technology purchasing and implementation is becoming essentially decentralized. No more is the technological future of a company strictly in the hands of IT departments, with every other department left to use what IT has selected; now, rather, IT is a part of a larger whole where an entire business essentially contributes to the technological strategy of the company based on what's needed at the time.

Indeed, the numbers supporting this are quite pronounced. Over a third of IT spending—about 35 percent--was taking place outside the IT department, based on reports from 1,300 IT leaders in 21 different countries. The trend will likely continue, with the percentage of IT spending shifting to almost half—44 percent-- within the next three years. Part of this is driven by IT's own attitudes; IT is mainly focused on maintaining infrastructure and applications—41 percent called this a top priority—and fixing problems that crop up at 35 percent. Only 14 percent are focused on bringing in new business, and 11 percent have new and innovative product development as a priority.

Essentially--as described by John Michelsen, CA Technologies' chief technology officer—old business models are being continually disrupted by new software and technology. Customers want new applications and experiences; employees need new tools in order to fully succeed. All these changes so rapidly coming out means that the old model of IT making the tech decisions simply can't work; IT doesn't know enough about the other departments and other businesses to make the optimal choices. So IT, therefore, has to become almost like “ consultants, brokers and advisors, or risk becoming marginalized in the software and technology-driven economy.”

This is really nothing new. In many businesses, the users want access to what the users want access to, and if IT is “in the way,” IT will likely be ignored or otherwise circumvented. That was seen at least somewhat in the growth of the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon, and it's likely to not stop being seen any time soon. While IT's top concerns aren't invalid concerns, the problem is those concerns generally maintain the status quo. Without an eye toward future growth, there will be no improvement, and that makes for a bad situation overall when something changes. Things will change; it's the one great standard of business. So without some kind of preparation for that change, opportunities are lost, and so too is potential profit.

With a decentralized planning function, the rest of the business gets involved, and everyone can chip in just a little future insight to a company to help generate a path toward improved outcomes for all concerned. The IT department has enough on its plate already; letting the rest of the business chip in with its own perspectives is likely to help the business itself toward better success in the field.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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