14 Oct Gartner: The 9 most contentious IT issues for 2009 and 2110
Orlando, Fla. – Thanks largely to declining global economic conditions, information technology departments might want to brace themselves for an interesting couple of years, a period that will be marked by both greater challenge and opportunity.
That’s according to speakers at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2008, where attendees were told that IT’s greatest opportunity to significantly improve overall enterprise operational performance will unfold from satisfactorily resolving nine very contentious issues.
“Growing global economic instability is putting increasing pressure on IT departments to support crucial business goals,” said Ken McGee, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “At a time when there is little in the way of additional budget available, CIOs need to know where and when to focus to best assist and improve enterprise performance.”
During the symposium, Gartner analysts outlined those issues and their recommendations for confronting them in ways that elevate IT in the eyes of upper management. The nine issues are as follows:
Issue 1: Business expectations for IT have outstripped IT’s internal ability to deliver.
In recent years, businesses have demanded that their IT departments increase their external focus on customers, new products and services, new geographies, and business processes. However, few CIOs have the staff with the skill sets to adequately meet these demands, and there is little funding for additional hires.
Gartner’s recommendation: That CIOs recognize the skills gap, refrain from solely hiring staff with IT backgrounds, and focus on delivering distinctive solutions.
Issue 2: How to more rapidly modernize infrastructure and operations, and reduce costs.
Infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders know that accelerating modernization is the only way to deal with rapid demand growth and other business needs, but they must balance this against the unrelenting pressure to reduce costs.
Gartner’s recommendation: Emphasize modernization projects that can be “self-funding,” or that can pay for themselves. Often, this can be achieved through I&O consolidation and virtualization.
Issue 3: Business accountability for security and risk management.
Since security and risk management is not just an IT issue, Gartner says it’s essential that IT risk managers persuade IT owners and line-of-business managers to accept responsibility for risk that impacts their systems and processes. This should be done on either a direct or a dotted-line (written agreement) basis.
Gartner’s recommendation: Risk managers should develop mechanisms for assignment and acceptance of risk decisions. Examples include signature forms, processes, and policies that address the requirement and execution of risk acceptance. The risk manager also should develop ways to convey risk levels that remove reference to technology yet still support good decisions and the implementation of technical controls.
Issue 4: Lack of business intelligence sponsorship.
According to Gartner, many IT leaders complain about issues the lack of vision on business intelligence and strategy while their companies use cumbersome ad hoc methods to make business decisions.
Gartner’s recommendation: Gartner advises clients to use existing models to build an integrated plan for BI initiatives, and bring greater returns from related business and IT investments.
Issue 5: How do I get my vendor to deliver what was promised?
Gartner’s recommendation: Users have a responsibility to be competent buyers, but both sides need to be more flexible in crafting a range of conditions and options as part of the contract. The better vendors have seen most conditions and should be able to avoid demanding incomplete or inappropriate contractual terms or conditions.
Issue 6: Turf wars.
Control and ownership-related friction between various IT groups and the enterprise architecture group intensifies when multiple IT groups maintain high-level planning functions.
Gartner’s recommendation: Focus on three core IT management disciplines – enterprise architecture, business process management, and service management. This helps to streamline different points of view, and provide the architectural guidance required to build solutions.
Issue 7: Should we modernize applications?
Many mission-critical systems still rely on code developed decades ago by programmers or vendors who have long since departed. Business applications, which run on old hardware and other infrastructure, must be migrated and equally strong inhibitors often offset the business drivers. As a result, nothing gets done.
Gartner’s recommendation: Some applications may need to be replaced, while renovation may derive more life out of others. However, the complexity of modernization usually exceeds the ability to fund and manage the effort, so a one-time budget set-aside might be necessary.
Issue 8: Who should business process professionals report to?
Gartner’s recommendation: Business process experts should be placed in a new hybrid organization that reports to a chief operating officer. Such a competency center should be made up of relatively few employees and should be joined by business domain experts, process experts, and IT professionals that would return to their respective departments upon completion of the project.
Issue 9: How much formal process is needed for portfolio management?
In the execution of IT projects, many believe that increased levels of process and oversight will make an organization less agile, while those who favor formal process and oversight believe that increased discipline will yield better results.
Gartner’s recommendation: The future of program and portfolio management actually will take a different route than either side anticipates. Project changes will become normal and more expected and accepted, so “PPM” methods will adopt smaller units of work to allow midcourse corrections.
According to Gartner, IT leaders should use this time – before obtaining new post financial crisis direction from CEOs – to resolve these issues. “Resolving these issues will place IT leaders in a far better position to take on the challenges of the new future that lies ahead,” McGee said.