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Resistance is futile!

Resistance is futile!

Rather than the big stick approach, CIOs should seek out the root causes behind shadow IT, then actively encourage line of business involvement in technology decision-making, advises Louise Francis of IDC New Zealand.

Ever since the first CIO roles evolved in the 1980s, each cycle of technological change has been accompanied by the notion that the CIO role will become irrelevant and disappear.

Instead IDC has seen that at each critical junction of change, the CIOs take up the challenge to adapt. For example, when the ‘second platform’ (PCs, LAN and client server) era of technology emerged, the democratisation of IT had many predicting that this would be the death knell of the IT department and CIOs. Instead many thrived as they were freed up to focus on new technologies that still required IT skills, particularly those that required a centralised focus.

With the emergence of the ‘third platform’ (cloud, mobility, big data and social technologies) the CIO is increasingly expected to become a multi-tasker who is often expected to wear several hats from technical, business and leadership roles. Despite these challenges, it often seems that the CIO is often expected to constantly prove their worth and validate their place at the executive table by demonstrating all these capabilities, whilst not holding the same expectation of other executives. However, the growing bombardment of demands means that CIOs are increasingly time and resource poor and this is creating an almost insurmountable obstacle to becoming not only a chief innovation officer, but also a chief influence, intelligence and inspiration officer.

As a result, IDC believes that in the transition from chief Infrastructure officer to chief innovation officer there will emerge three camps of CIOs: Those without the skill and capability to transition successfully, those reluctant to adapt, and the ones that successfully evolve. The first two camps are well advised to prepare themselves for a career change as their lack of relevance will leave little opportunity than to transition down or out. Those in the third camp of CIOs will reach their goal to become recognised as a chief innovation officer integral to the executive team.

Related: IDC Outlook 2014: Top trends for New Zealand CIOs What are the issues and developments that are expected to have the most significant impact on the local ICT market in the next 12 months?

IDC believes the answer to this dilemma could lie in the growing influence of line of business (LOB) on IT investment decisions and deployments. As third platform technology emerges, there is a blurring of the lines between the technologies, which is also creating a distortion in the traditional business model, tearing down to boundaries between IT and the LOB. Instead of a hindrance, the ascendance of the LOB can potentially liberate a CIO from the fetters of day to day micromanagement of IT to become a legitimate chief innovation officer.

Read more: Doing business with William Davis of Aderant

CIOs should actively encourage line of business involvement in technology decision-making and implement an effective governance process that supports self-management of IT decision making.

Louise Francis, IDC NZ

A big characteristic of third platform technologies is that LOB managers get it. They understand how the technologies can help them meet their business objectives, they know how to acquire the technologies and they are quite capable of successfully implementing the technologies simply and quickly – at least that is how they perceive it.

Globally, IDC has found over half of new IT investments in 2013 involved direct participation by line of business (LOB) executives. If this trend is extrapolated LOB will be directly involved in 80 percent of new IT investments by 2016. This trend is equally relevant in a 2013 survey, of over 300 New Zealand executives, which found the CIO's level of involvement in business transformation projects has dropped below 50 per cent for virtually every stage of the project, whilst LOB involvement has risen to over 50 per cent.

Read more: House of Travel increases productivity and cuts cost with digital communications

Related: Essential partnerships Line of business executives are now making more technology decisions – with or without IT’s imprimatur. CIOs and analysts share pointers on how to develop and nurture a working relationship with these business leaders.

However, the problem is not when IT is excluded. It occurs when IT is unaware and “shadow IT” develops within the organisation. Rather than the big stick approach (which will probably exasperate the situation), the CIO should seek out the root causes behind shadow IT. They should actively encourage LOB involvement in technology decision-making and implement an effective governance process that supports self-management of IT decision making.

IDC believes that for CIOs to understand if they have the organisational ability to transform to the new model, they need to ask the following questions:

• Are you a part of setting the organisational strategy and equally are your executives involved in establishing the information and risk management policies?

• Are you actively engaged with the wider organisation and do you measure the level of engagement?

• What are the things are you are going to stop doing and buy from the market?

• Has your capability/staff evolved from infrastructure and systems management focus to architects and process management?

Read more: How MYOB CEO found his ‘edge advisor’

Louise Francis is research manager – IT spending, for IDC New Zealand. Reach lfrancis@idc.com.

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