State of IT: IT’s Role in Business Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

When we take a look back at the IT industry in the 90s, we remember it as the Godfather of all IT apps, mainframes, and data centers. The bigger the data center, the more bragging rights you had. But we all know the days of self-storing data in warehouses and building solutions from the ground up are gone.

IT has undergone a paradigm shift from a builder of technology to a broker and integrator of connected services and service providers delivered in the cloud. And due to this shift, IT organizations are finding it more and more difficult to resolve service issues efficiently, provide high-quality support to business customers, hold teams and service providers accountable, and continuously drive process improvements.

With these new responsibilities, IT has become more critical to the success of today’s technology-driven businesses. In’s 2016 State of the CIO survey, 53 percent of IT executives said their relationship with line of business (LOB) owners is tight, but only 36 percent of business executives agreed. For other business leaders to see these relationships as close, IT operations executives have to keep application stability a priority while also encouraging interdepartmental accountability. Successfully adapting to these changes requires full visibility around IT’s current operational performance as well as your desired future state.

IT Is Partnered with the Business — Now What?

As mentioned earlier, IT’s role has shifted to better align with business — and IT is encountering new challenges to meet demands from business customers in a cost-efficient way while also driving innovation. IT leaders need both the ability to adapt to these new challenges and the knowledge to anticipate and avert impromptu problems. Two ways that you will be able to achieve your goals are to drive transparency and employ a single source of data for the organization.


Transparency across the department, service providers, and operational costs is critical for your organization to succeed at IT’s new priorities. In a recent survey we conducted with Gatepoint Research and at Knowledge 17, 80 percent of IT leaders share that full visibility across IT is very important or absolutely essential. IT leaders know they need the insight to effectively oversee and optimize usage of that infrastructure. With transparency you will have the ability to see resource distribution trends, understand how service provider health is impacting CIEs, and calculate the costs of outages.

Many organizations have mastered operational monitoring metrics, but what they struggle with is getting the insights needed to understand broader trends and high-level impacts. You know when a server goes down and how long it’s offline, but you may not see the fiscal and business consequences of that outage. In order to avoid these issues, department heads need more efficient and effective knowledge-extraction methods to establish business transparency and accountability around resources, service providers, and costs.

No More Siloed Data Sources

Poor visibility into departmental operations and their broader business impact are easily some of the most common problems that IT organizations encounter. IT has a blurry view of its processes and performance due to pieced-together information from siloed data sources.

While other departments such as sales and marketing have been refining their processes from analytical solutions for years, IT teams have continued to rely on spreadsheets, internal BI teams, and system reports. When we talked to the IT leaders through Gatepoint and at Knowledge 17, 70 percent of organizations responded that they use spreadsheets to obtain IT insights, reports, and analytics.

It is time IT moves away from siloed pockets of data trapped in different systems of record, because it closes you off from gaining insight into the information necessary to make business decisions. You have to make the shift to a single source of insight for more measurable, repeatable, predictable service delivery.

Looking Ahead to IT's Role in the Future

While IT has already undergone a major shift to brokering business services, there are more changes to come. Paul Heltzel, senior producer for Discovery News, talks to a number of different technology leaders in his latest CIO article on the future of IT. He explains these expected changes are due to automation, rapid adoption of cloud-based services, artificial intelligence as a business must-have, and more. Shifts in IT must help bridge the gap between business initiatives and leveraging these new technologies.

Heltzel talked with Rackspace CIO Ryan Neading, who said “IT is no longer a back office that you call when you need something, they’re at the table making decisions and developing strategies that have a direct impact on the business.” And he is correct: IT is aligning themselves with overall business goals and looking to have more interaction with the end users. From the State of the CIO Survey, 62% of IT executives say they frequently or occasionally meet with external companies today – and this will only grow. Customers expect a five-star experience when interacting with any technology, appliance, and service – making this a top priority for all businesses. As IT grows into a business partner, this becomes their top initiative.

While Neading perfectly covers the state of IT today, ServiceNow CIO Chris Bedi shares what IT organizations can look forward to: “I see the biggest impact that automation will make on IT is that it will accelerate the shift from ‘running IT’ to innovating the future.”

Today IT is just starting to be brought to the table for the big business decisions; yet Bedi sees the future of IT as being the groundbreakers of new ideas. From the back room, to the business table, to finally being the trailblazers – IT has a lot to look forward to.

Learn more about how to extract actionable insights from relevant sources of business data – and how to leverage that intelligence to improve processes and deliver superior service to your customers. Download our new eBook, Charting the IT Operations Course with Analytics.

[Photo credit: Pexels.]

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