Business technology (BT) is a means to an end. BT is there to support the business objectives. Similarly, the task of IT leaders is to provide the most appropriate technological infrastructure to all employees so that they can pursue the business objectives most effectively. In other words: IT and business leaders should have the same perspective.
Yet, new Forrester survey data indicates several gaps in opinion about network infrastructure aspects between business and IT leaders. We see a risk that IT will purchase network and collaboration assets that do not address the demand by business lines. Similarly, there is a risk that business lines remain unaware of network and collaboration assets that IT has put in place. Under both scenarios, businesses waste valuable resources and end up with an inefficient network and collaboration infrastructure.
Our new report The Expectation Gap Increases Between Business And IT Leaders helps sourcing vendor management professional define an IT and networking strategy that supports overall business goals. This report is a follow-up of our 2012 report, Prepare For The Connected Enterprise Now. Our main messages to business based on the survey results are to:
- Drive communication infrastructure projects in collaboration with business and IT. Eight out of 10 IT and business leaders consider network and telecom technologies critical to driving staff productivity. Sourcing professionals should focus activities on driving the road map and jointly develop business cases.
- Balance outsourcing expectations with overall business objectives. Business leaders believe third-party services provide better performance and service than in-house resources. Sourcing professional play a central, independent role in evaluating if they really do bring additional benefit in line with the overall business objectives.
- Improve awareness between demand and supply of network implementations. Only one-third of business leaders are aware of existing collaboration solutions. Sourcing professionals play a key role in leveraging existing investments into IT assets and matching actual end user demand for particular communication and network solutions.
Our survey data indicates that there has been a significant shift in priorities by businesses regarding top strategic network and telecommunications priorities between 2012 and 2013:
- Cloud drives agile consumption of IT and networking resources. Cloud computing is emerging as a major trend for businesses on a larger scale than in the past. Between 2012 and 2013, the percentage of those who view cloud computing as a high or critical priority increased from 37% to 63%.
- Mobility as a channel remains a major priority but sees no additional momentum. Mobility support for customers and business partners is recognised as a priority that few businesses can ignore. Some 63% of businesses share this opinion. But mobility is no higher of a priority in 2013 than it was in 2012 for businesses, indicating that mobile momentum is flattening out.
- Vendor consolidation and rationalisation reflect the macroeconomic conditions. Given the ongoing challenging economic market conditions, it’s no surprise that rationalisation and consolidation of network equipment vendors and communications service providers is a higher priority this year than in 2012.
- Business process automation, M2M, is gaining traction. The most significant percentage increase in network and telecommunications priority relates to machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions. Some 36% of respondents ranked M2M as a high or critical priority in 2013 — 23% more than in 2012.
Dan Bieler is a Forrester analyst serving CIOs.