If digital transformation is to succeed at the pace enterprises demand, IT teams, the CIOs who lead them, and the boardroom must forge a far greater alignment than presently exists. That is the over-arching sentiment expressed by IT professionals in a recent survey on the state of IT infrastructure and roadblocks to digital success.
While there is much conversation these days on CIOs and IT becoming more integral to business strategy, indications are the evergreen issue of siloed departments continues to be fully evident. The survey found that 66% of respondents said their enterprise had invested in new IT tools and processes to support digital transformation. Contrast this with only 22% of respondents saying they have fully aligned integration between IT teams and business strategy when it comes to digital transformation, and 15% saying that there is no IT visibility at the board level. The disconnect is quite startling.
Besides a lack of team alignment, the survey also revealed enterprises still have a ways to go in reaching superior IT infrastructure performance. These findings illustrate the challenges:
■ Only 21% of respondents say that the reliability of IT operations (keeping the lights on) is a key component of achieving digital transformation success in their organization.
■ 25% of respondents said they struggle to effectively monitor the health of IT systems
■ 21% said that legacy infrastructure is hampering the ability to scale
The IT Disconnect
Accelerating digital transformation means progress must be made on two fronts: improving monitoring and management across the IT estate, including legacy infrastructure, and secondly, better integrating IT performance with enterprise business strategy.
The survey found 34% of respondents were still using tools from some years back because IT Ops and monitoring is seen as a cost-center (not ROI). Understandably, ROI can be difficult to prove across multiple business units with different metrics, and the complex, fast paced nature of these projects. However, CIOs and their teams will only become more powerful players in the boardroom if they support their ROI case with numbers and facts.
Visibility across the entire estate is an essential part of digital transformation. IT professionals know that. To prove it to the boardroom, up-to-date tools that can provide centralized monitoring will be able to show measurable results: improved performance, less downtime and better management of legacy infrastructure. Most enterprises are working with a confusing array of systems these days hybrid cloud workloads, physical and virtual networks and legacy and modern systems that don't talk to each other. Bringing all these facets under one centralized monitoring platform provides IT with clear oversight and the ability to support digital transformation with an IT infrastructure that is more cogent and efficient.
What's more, common internal and external frustrations can be overcome such as spotting early stage problems which are often not seen until they have transformed into major incidents such as IT outages. Avoiding these sorts of issues, which cause significant damage to both reputation and the balance sheet, go a long way to enhancing IT's reputation and its strategic influence.
Erasing the Silos
Despite these recognizable performance benefits, however, 48% of survey respondents stated that IT performance monitoring is not seen as a priority, with 20% claiming that it was seen as an afterthought.
The antidote to this apathy lies in communication: IT has to do a great job in reporting centralized monitoring performance data up the chain to executives, continually reinforcing the perception that IT teams are enabling the business to derive true value from digital transformation projects. This may necessitate some cultural shift as well. Let's face it: IT has not always won awards for being interactive with other departments. A more integrated, collegial approach is necessary for IT to break through silos.
CIOs are important ambassadors of IT's message that it is a value-add to digital transformation, not merely a cost center. An interesting Harvard Law School post said, "Yet CIOs — ostensibly thee stewards of the organization's technology agenda — infrequently appear in the boardroom, and when they do, they often find it difficult to engage directors in a strategic dialogue."
It is incumbent on CIOs to champion new monitoring tools, more technology integration and investments that, overall, facilitate digital transformation and competitiveness. The Harvard Law School posted also noted a Deloitte study that found 48% of board technology conversations focus on cyber threats and data privacy, while only 32% relate to technology-enabled digital transformation.
The conclusion is much more work needs to be done to move IT into a seat in the boardroom.
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