Firms look beyond IT for tech innovation

More than half of South African business leaders believe that the next wave of technology disruption will come from outside the traditional IT department, new research has found.

More than half of South African business leaders believe that the next wave of technology disruption will come from outside the traditional IT department.

New research by specialist market research agency Vanson Bourne, which polled 2 000 IT decision makers and 2 000 heads of lines of business globally, including 100 in South Africa, shows that 57% of local business leaders believe that the management of technology is shifting away from IT to other departments as lines of business take charge of technology-led innovation.

According to the research, which was conducted on behalf of US-headquartered technology firm VMware (now a subsidiary of Dell), this decentralisation of IT is delivering “real business benefits”, including the ability to launch new products and services to market with greater speed (61% of respondents), giving the business more freedom to drive innovation (59%) and increasing responsiveness to market conditions (59%).

There are also positives from a skills perspective, with the shift in technology ownership beyond IT to the broader business seen to increase employee satisfaction (63%) and help attract better talent (52%), the research found.

However, decentralisation presents challenges for businesses, too. For example, leaders from across business lines believe the shift is causing duplication of spend on IT services (51%), a lack of clear ownership and responsibility for IT (58%) and the purchasing of unsecure solutions (68%).

Also, decentralisation typically takes place against the wishes of the IT department. The majority (58%) of IT teams want IT to become more centralised. In particular, IT leaders feel that core functions like network security and compliance, private cloud-based services and storage should remain in their control.

VMware sub-Saharan Africa regional director Matthew Kibby said the rise of cloud computing has “democratised IT” thanks to its “ease of access and attractive costing models”. So, it’s “no surprise that lines of business have jumped on this opportunity”.

Matthew Kibby

“Too often, however, we’re seeing this trend left unchecked and without adequate IT governance,” Kibby said. Thus, IT costs are rising, security is being compromised and there’s confusion as to who does what in technology innovation.

The research found that there’s agreement among South African business leaders (80%) that IT should enable lines of business to drive innovation, but must set the strategic direction and accountability for security.

“This highlights the balance to be struck between the central IT function retaining control while also allowing innovation to foster in other, separate areas of the business,” VMware said.  — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media

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