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Running vs transforming the business: getting the right balance


Acora’s CTO Lee Ganly recently addressed a captive audience of business leaders at a client’s headquarters  to shed some light on what appears to be a perennial problem for IT – how to get the right balance between running the business and innovating to transform the business

According to a 2014 state of the CIO survey, 68% of the 722 respondents found it challenging to find the right balance between business innovation and operational excellence.

IT as a business enabler

IT can enable your business to grow and transform, but unless you have a stable foundation of technology supporting your BAU – you can’t even begin to consider investing in business transforming technologies.  An out of date IT foundation can restrain a business from making change. Building on old technology will not help your business transform or grow – it will constrain it. Having a platform that you know you can trust and flex with can do wonders to support your business objectives. It also provides the opportunity to start considering investing in technology that can transform your business, such as cloud, avoiding the problems that arise through ‘shadow IT’ and mobile/social technologies. Transformational activities are business driven; they change the way a business operates and allows them to grow. It’s not only important to have a stable IT environment, but it’s also important to transform by introducing new products, expanding internationally and interacting with customers in new ways. Investing in technology can help achieve these goals, but a strong IT base must be there to support it.

So, how do you do it?

Manage your IT assets as a portfolio.

A balanced portfolio should still include the hygiene things (the run part of the business), you need to manage them and apportion some time to them, but they’re not necessarily game changers.
In your portfolio, on top of your basics consider some more innovative IT investments. A perfect example of an innovative technology investment would be the cloud services.  Cloud services are really starting to mature and big players such as Microsoft are moving into the market. IT should be challenging their own IT infrastructure and start to think more seriously about investing in a cloud solution.

Stand up to Shadow IT

76% of respondents indicated IT projects developed without IT involvement are creating problems, magnified by organisation size. Internal IT departments now have to work with more departments than ever, as technology becomes more integral to the way in which business is run.  Many employees get frustrated with what they see as lack of innovation from their IT department,  so they go it alone, installing technology in the business without the assistance or approval of the IT department. And with a range of cloud hosted packages available to download at the click of a finger, who can blame them?

Yes of course this creates a risk to the business, as it results in having disjointed IT systems that are not appropriately governed. But rather than IT being viewed as the big bad wolf, discouraging innovation, let IT and the LOB leaders work together to make the investment work better for both parties.  Look at efficient ways of integrating the cloud service with data already held on site for example; or make it easy for the user to log on automatically, doing away with a manual process.

Don’t forget too that buying a software based service means you can test it before investing properly. So if the cloud service that has been downloaded delivers the required results, continue to roll it out on a cloud based environment…and then gradually bring it back in to a more controlled environment.

Next week we’ll publish our top tips on how to help manage and govern a balanced portfolio of IT assets. But if you can’t wait until then, email advisory@acora.com

 

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