The Trouble with IT Isn't Really IT

Michael Vizard
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The trouble with IT has very little to do with information technology and everything to do with the process chaos that's rampant in business.

According to Doug Mow, senior vice president of marketing for Virtusa, an IT services and business process consulting firm, anywhere from 30 to 70 percent of IT applications and the infrastructure on which they run are a waste of money. It's not uncommon for businesses to have, for example, multiple order-entry systems connected to a maze of redundant back-office systems. Because no one is in charge of processes within the business, each department becomes a master of its own applications regardless of those running in other departments.

Mow, of course, is making a case for application rationalization. But he says most businesses will never accomplish that goal until someone becomes the chief process officer within the organization. In some instances, that may be the chief operating officer or even the CIO. But for the most part, Mow says most businesses will never be agile until someone takes on that task.

In the meantime, IT takes a lot of heat for the cost to support all these redundant applications and systems. The heat comes as arbitrarily reduced budgets -- "you can eat what you can kill" planning rather than a real business plan -- or threats to outsource IT operations, proprosals that could actually cost more.


In reality, IT is little more than a reflection of the business it supports. If the IT department is a mess, it's likely because the business it is trying to support is an even bigger mess.

Of course, IT leaders really need to dig up the courage to have a meaningful conversation with the business people they are trying to support. That might mean no longer just going along in the hopes of not losing one's job. Business executives might not like everything that IT leaders have to say, especially in these tough economic times. But in most organizations today, numbers talk and everything else walks.

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Aug 20, 2010 3:25 AM Ashley at Absolute Ashley at Absolute  says:

Michael is right, without open lines of communication between the IT department and the other areas of a business, IT can't efficiently and effectively serve its purpose.

Having the right IT resources in place is key to remaining competitive for most businesses today, however the ROI in these cases are just as important. For CIOs and IT department leaders, it's important to have regular check-ins with people in various departments to understand how these tools are being used on a day-to-day basis and whether they are appropriately serving their purpose. By doing this, you become a more valuable resource to your company. 

Another good tool for IT professionals looking to cut down on inefficiencies is utilizing a lifecycle management software. This type of software can help you with tracking licenses and applications installed on hardware, asset inventory and power management, which will in turn cut down on inefficiencies and unnecessary costs

Aug 26, 2010 2:12 AM Nick Spanos Nick Spanos  says: in response to Ashley at Absolute

While I agree that IT's effectiveness is impacted by the lack of organization in the business, IT also shares the blame.  IT organizations ask the business what they want and then try to deliver it even if it doesn't make sense. 

This means that IT is filling a tactical service role and is not providing any strategic leadership.  The business doesn't understand technology.  IT demands the business tell them what they want but how do they know what to ask for?  Additionally, many applications are shared across business areas and each area has their own needs independant of other areas.  IT should be in the ideal position to coordinate and resolve conflicts.

IT should establish a strategic planning function where they examine the current and anticipated business requirements and recommend a technology strategy (applications, data, and infrastructure) to support the business.  We should give the business ideas on how to leverage technology instead of asking them for detailed descriptions of what they want. 

This was a major part of IT's responsibilities 30 years ago.  IT has abdicated that role and become a service provider.


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