Refocusing on Information

In recent years, the IT that we use in our personal life has become an increasingly dominant force in both our personal and professional lives. Many of us communicate more via digital channels than we do in person and a significant proportion of the workforce could not imagine business life before email – even as now organisations are looking at its removal.

So while IT has become a personal consumable, it’s important to think of Enterprise IT in the right way – it should be viewed as a set of tools designed to support employees in achieving the business goals required of them and delivering the right outcomes in an efficient way.

Unfortunately, in many organisations, business operations and IT often work to different rhythms. Business strategy and structure can often change faster than IT’s capability to keep up. For some organisations in recent years, this situation has worsened, both as a result of the economy and historical issues with organisational structures and IT procurement.

Creating unhelpful boundaries

IT can often be deployed in a siloed manner, following the classical verticals of sales, finance, ops, and so on. However, businesses do not work vertically. As an example, there is not a sales process in the world that does not end with anticipated delivery, finance processes are not triggered without the input of sales and delivery. With businesses working horizontally, and IT tending to follow vertical investment lines, inefficiencies are bound to appear.

Addressing entrenched business models

Gartner’s Infrastructure Maturity Model shows the expectations of a service as it matures– it applies to IT Infrastructure Services. It could, however, apply to any enterprise Shared Service

The effect of the IT we consume at home on the perception of the services we consume in our professional lives can only be detrimental. If you need to request something, change something or you have a problem with something relating to your home IT you almost certainly sort out the problem yourself – you self-manage. Why is this not the case at work? At home you can reset your own password – at work you almost certainly have to call a service desk who will fill in a form on your behalf and send it to someone to reset the account for you!

Deploying things like automated IT support procedures and cloud services can address these issues within IT. However, as a set of targets the maturity model applies to all enterprise shared services, and what it depicts in a single phrase is self-management.

While the use of cloud can help organisations to move up the IT maturity scale, namely meeting the demands of organisational consumers whilst increasing the value of IT within the business, to do so they need to ensure that business processes and the information those processes are reliant on are joined up across the business.

Business Process Management (BPM) is key to managing this flow of information between systems and end-users and, if implemented correctly, facilitates a change in the role of the CIO. Many businesses will have already deployed BPM but probably will have done so within organisational siloes, and for case management or governance purposes. This underplays BPM’s full potential – the biggest benefits it delivers are when it is used in the execution of business outcomes not just the governance of the processes that deliver them.

Through deploying BPM, IT can deliver the agility that many enterprises have lacked traditionally within the IT estates, and in particular to enterprise shared services and the monolithic ERP systems upon which they rely. The IT department is still left with legacy and critical systems, but the use of these cloud solutions enables faster procurement cycles and the increased end-to-end self-management of processes required to break down siloes and move up the infrastructure maturity model.

The challenge for many CIOs will be managing the transition from the IT-owned environment of the past to the business-enabling role of the future. How does IT ensure that end to end business processes are not impacted?

To do this the CIO will need to employ an increased focus on information. This change in focus entails a shift from infrastructure security to data security, from a technology focus to a business focus, from in-house provisioning to partner provisioning. As enterprise IT continues to evolve, making this transition in staff, direction and focus, within the constraints of budgeting and compliance rules, will be the main challenge for CIOs in the future.

On Tuesday 11th November at 13:55 EST, I’ll be discussing these themes in more detail at OpenText Enterprise World, Florida. Join the conversation on Twitter @Getronics #GetronicsMasterBuilders. For more information about this session, or for advice on how to register, visit getronics.com

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