IT on the front foot

Sourcing, architecture and the progressive IT organisation

First published: April 2008

by Jon Collins and Dale Vile

A number of new and established approaches to IT are going to have to work in harmony. In this report, which is based on input gathered from 202 IT decision makers and influencers, we consider how some organisations are doing this better than others.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

There is indeed such a thing as the ‘progressive’ IT organisation
In this study we found a clear correlation between IT organisations that deliver services at a more strategic level to the business, and how businesses perceive their IT organisations. More importantly perhaps, there was also a correlation with stock market performance. While this cannot be put down to IT alone, it is a positive sign and adds considerable weight to the argument that IT can operate as more than just a cost centre.

Progressive IT organisations reveal a progressive approach to sourcing
We looked at a number of aspects of IT sourcing, from the flavour of the month, Software as a Service (SaaS), to the more traditional outsourcing of software development activities. In both, the study showed how the more progressive IT organisations were more likely to adopt such kinds of capability. While this may appear counter-intuitive initially, it also suggests that when IT organisations act more strategically, they are better able to decide on what should be kept in house, or otherwise.

We can learn from the experiences of more progressive IT organisations
Another thing the study shows us is how progressive IT views deployment and operational challenges (such as those documented here for SaaS). While there is no such thing as an ‘average’ deployment, organisations starting down the path can nonetheless benefit from the experiences of their peers: with SaaS for example, progressive IT organisations see integration challenges as a priority concern.

Architecture and integration become key elements of progressive IT
When we compared progressive attitudes with the propensity to adopt such approaches as service oriented architecture (SOA), once again we found a strong linkage. This suggests more than just a will to adopt new working practices; rather, it is an indicator of how such joined up approaches are a necessary element of a more strategic treatment of IT, which is illustrated further by the propensity to consider the adoption of hybrid models for example, blending elements of SaaS and in house software functionality using both on-site and off-site equipment. Once again, integration is the key – across different sourcing approaches as well as between the distributed systems they furnish.

The goal is for IT to raise its game
While many IT organisations have already adopted a more strategic role, there are many others that are still seen as no more than a cost centre. This is no place for glib statements, but there are a number of practical steps IT organisations can take to deliver a significantly higher level of service to the business.


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