IT Decision Makers Prioritize "Keeping the Lights On" Over Innovation
September 04, 2018

Rex McMillan

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While digital transformation may be the initiative du jour, newly released research shows IT pros are far more concerned about day-to-day performance and maintaining critical infrastructure than they are about shifting focus to IT innovation. The report by Ivanti and IDG Connect reveals the tension of competing pressures IT faces in supporting operations against a backdrop of enterprises wanting to be more digitally competitive.

Survey findings from over 300 IT decision makers across the U.S., Europe and the Middle East showed clear priorities are supporting business processes, lowering IT spend and administering corporate governance and regulatory compliance. Strategic innovation, creativity and digital business initiatives are at the bottom of the list.

Key findings of the report include:

■ 56% of respondents say maintaining critical infrastructure and IT systems is the most cited expectation of the organization

■ Lowering IT spend is a close second (50%)

■ 41% report supporting more agile business processes is top of mind

■ Lower expectations were digital initiatives (33%), enabling executive leadership's strategic innovation (28%) and training staff on IT security (23%). 

IT staff time is also split between competing priorities. Security initiatives (52%) and new technologies and processes (52%) comprise a significant share of workflow, followed by maintaining and updating applications and systems (42%), and acquiring the right talent (38%).

Digital Initiatives Getting Low Priority

Similarly, a focus on digital business did not get top marks in looking at the future. Asked about investment plans over the next two years, 53% said there would be more money allocated for new cloud and infrastructure while 46% expect increased budget for data analytics and 39% expect to invest in maintaining/modernizing existing infrastructure and services.

"As globalization and digital-native start-ups threaten incumbents, smart companies need to liberate their CIOs to think ahead of the curve rather than obsess over day-to-day operations," said Matthew Smith, President, Demand Generation at IDG Communications. "But today IT is all too often still regarded as a support function or information leaders are too stretched to drive competitive differentiation."

In the short term ‘keeping the lights on' may seem strategic, but in the long term, some fraction of the IT budget needs to allow at least 10% of IT time to innovation and creativity, to deliver a true, digital competitive advantage to the business.

"Enterprises today face an existential crisis: innovate or die," Smith concluded.

Rex McMillan is Principal Product Manager at Ivanti.
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