An IT Revolution Approaches - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IT Leadership
07:00 AM
Tim Hebert, Chief Client Officer, Carousel Industries
Tim Hebert, Chief Client Officer, Carousel Industries

An IT Revolution Approaches

For all of the talk about IT playing a key role in innovation, those maintenance tasks that "keep the train running" don't leave much time for innovation.

IT leaders are waging an important battle every day. We’re expected to be at the forefront of innovation—influencing and compelling our organizations to move toward business transformation while also keeping the lights on. But innovation and growth initiatives are inherently competitive with IT run activities and, unfortunately, the latter seems to win every time. Consequently, we’re losing the war.

Think of your own IT department for a second: what percentage of your department’s time is spent innovating versus completing chore tasks? Many organizations spend as much as 90% of their time on such tasks. Even the best organizations struggle to bring their run below 65%. Most continue to lose ground as they increase efforts and expenditures to support the run of IT systems.

Most IT departments may be hamstrung by these day-to-day tasks, yet business operations also presume they can drive innovation.

A Society for Information Management (SIM) 2017 report, which surveyed CIOs, revealed that other than the CEO, the CIO has the most complex, broad, and diverse set of responsibilities.

In many ways, IT professionals are constantly searching for validation, seeking respect and striving for organizational relevance. They are on “The Road to IT Relevance,” only preserving significance if they drive market trends.

Let’s examine five core factors complicating the job of today’s IT professional.

1. Technology Consumerization. The modern IT world is incredibly different compared to 20 years ago, or even five years ago. Technology is in the hands of the consumer thanks to the rise of smartphones, near ubiquitous Wi-Fi access, mobile applications and cloud-based solutions. The consumerization of IT has made the end-user more tech savvy, while increasing both the demands of the technology they utilize and their expectations of IT. For instance, they may think building an enterprise ERP system is as simple as flipping the switch and moving to the cloud. Or, they might wonder why an IT rollout could take a year not two months. These contradicting beliefs and expectations can erode IT’s value to the organization over time.

2. Digitization of the Enterprise. Companies like Amazon, Uber and Airbnb have demonstrated firsthand the power of transformation. They are innovating on a dime, keeping the customer front and center, and driving towards evolution daily. The new digital era they’ve helped create has disrupted entire industries almost overnight, and changed the mindset that things don’t need to be done as they always have been. Today’s IT leaders face intensified pressures to harness technology and identify and develop talent to advance the organization’s digital ambitions. Yet the lack of available talent is making it harder to truly drive enterprise innovation.

3. Managing Modern IT. Years ago, businesses solely invested in on-premise equipment that would be stored securely in the data center. This was followed by a natural shift to colocation and then hybrid environments and now the cloud. These developments have created the modern IT environment, one in which data, tools, software and hardware are distributed anywhere in the world. One of the chief complications caused by this shift, however, is that we lack an optimal way to manage this environment with a single pane of glass—or a single set of tools. Instead, each environment has its own need for management. Today’s IT leaders grapple with how to manage this distributed IT environment that is no longer under lock and key, or under the four walls of the building.

4. Cost of Running IT is Rising. Running IT is more complex than ever before, but it’s also more expensive. Consider the cost of operating IT Operations Management (ITOM) or IT Service Management (ITSM) systems required to support this new “AlwaysOn” imperative. The expense of these tools -- coupled with the cost of implementation, integration and maintenance -- can break the bank. In addition, the cost to build and support an “AlwaysOn” environment is increasing. Previously, organizations may have had a few mission critical applications requiring 24/7/365 support. Today, it seems like all applications and systems have this requirement. IT operations are no longer confined to 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday schedule, and the manpower required to run IT has significantly increased.

5. Talent Deficit. Unquestionably, the talent deficit is alive and well. This crisis is so prevalent that we’ve witnessed dramatic increases in salaries, an extended talent search process and greater challenge in retaining our best. And when we identify top performers, instead of enabling them to set the strategic vision, they become glorified firefighters, extinguishing flames all day. Our IT teams are drowning in a sea of alerts, alarms, events, complaints and requests for help, all of which drowns out the important tasks.

It’s time for a revolution

With these mega trends complicating the success and relevance of IT professionals and their organizations, isn’t it time to stop the insanity? Isn’t time for a revolution?

IT leaders must transform the way in which they run IT. They need to reposition their top performers so they are focused on driving the business forward, rather than putting out fires. They need to set aggressive growth goals and make sure the organization is assembled in a way that allows the department to take a step closer each day to revolution. And they need to figure out how to run IT cheaper, faster and more efficiently than ever before.

For many companies, the revolution starts by repositioning talent to focus on strategic growth imperative. The notion of out-tasking — or outsourcing specific functions of IT — is growing in popularity so that a business’ in-house talent can get back to driving transformation and innovation

As IT leaders, we must reimagine how to run IT. After all, as IT, we are in the revolution business.

Tim Hebert, Carousel
Tim Hebert, Carousel

As Carousel’s Chief Client Officer, Tim Hebert is responsible for cultivating and curating our corporate culture, defining and delivering the ultimate client experience, and investing and impacting our local communities. Tim is an influential role model leading transformation not only at Carousel, but in inner-city public education with the adoption of Rhode Island’s Academy for Career Exploration. He has taken significant leadership roles within the state of Rhode Island as a Trustee for the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, a Director of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, and a board member for several non-profits including Boy Scouts of America-Narragansett Council, Tech Collective, Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art (RIMOSA), and Greenschools.


The InformationWeek community brings together IT practitioners and industry experts with IT advice, education, and opinions. We strive to highlight technology executives and subject matter experts and use their knowledge and experiences to help our audience of IT ... View Full Bio
We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
8/14/2017 | 1:10:24 PM
Been there
I've run Data Centers, and the truth of it, is that this article is nails it on the head.  Leaders want innovation, but they cut budget then turn around saying that they want to go to the next market brouhaha.  When I got there there were constant firefights met head on by some of the smartest guys I ever met.  My first order of business was to stop the 'throw the update/upgrades/new product over the fence' syndrom and set a schedule for the SW team forcing themselves to get organized (not my department).  It's a good thing because later I had to reduce my staff, keep the lights on, and bring in new things.  I took it upon myself to look for the next technology, evaluate it, see how it would fit into the overall organizations strategy, make recommendations and so on.  I would use the guys when I needed them.  If the pilot was a success and approved, then I would schedule it against everything else they were doing.  These were exciting time, the guys got overtime, and the customer got what they wanted.  It's not a's an opportunity!
User Rank: Apprentice
8/11/2017 | 9:50:30 PM
Sound and Fury, signifying nothing
Sir, if your goal was to get your number of clicks increased, and verify that you have the ability to write well, bravo. Good job, I congratulate you.

If your goal was to give anyone anywhere information of value, you have failed utterly. This article tells us everything we already know, and absolutely nothing we do not.

IT is hard and fast-changing. Check.

Our CEOs are unforgiving and want results. Check.

We never have enough of a budget to grow the people we need. Check.

And then you end with a pat 'Get out there and make things better. Do everything cheaper with less, and do it faster.' I've heard more insightful speaches from Nancy Reagan. You could at the very least take the time to run back through your bullet points and note something helpful in the world of technology that's giving us an edge. Instead, I have wasted my precious, expensive time reading about a revolution that is the most insufferable of platitudes.

Don't stop writing. Just start thinking and giving us the results of your NEW findings in IT.

Ever Onward,

How to Create a Successful AI Program
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/14/2020
Think Like a Chief Innovation Officer and Get Work Done
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  10/13/2020
10 Trends Accelerating Edge Computing
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/8/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
2020 State of DevOps Report
2020 State of DevOps Report
Download this report today to learn more about the key tools and technologies being utilized, and how organizations deal with the cultural and process changes that DevOps brings. The report also examines the barriers organizations face, as well as the rewards from DevOps including faster application delivery, higher quality products, and quicker recovery from errors in production.
Current Issue
[Special Report] Edge Computing: An IT Platform for the New Enterprise
Edge computing is poised to make a major splash within the next generation of corporate IT architectures. Here's what you need to know!
Flash Poll