New technologies driving IT and business alignment
It was not too long ago that technologies such as cloud, mobile, social, and big data analytics were little more than futuristic concepts whose true potential was largely unknown. Fast forward to today, however, and they have become a core part of modern IT. Yes, the degree of adoption may vary, but these four pillars of the Third Platform now play a critical role within any forward-thinking organisation.
While some businesses are attracted to these technologies by the potential cost savings they offer, others are motivated by a desire to drive new levels of innovation, become more agile, and enhance their overall competitiveness. But as with any new technology, there are a number of factors that IT teams must consider if they are to ensure a successful deployment, including cost, risk, and user experience. And the criticality of these factors can vary depending on the technology in question.
When it comes to deploying cloud technologies, IDC finds that cost typically outranks risk and user experience. This is because the overall total cost of ownership for cloud solutions offers a strong value proposition. That said, many of the functionalities currently being addressed via public cloud services are not mission critical in nature, although some verticals such as retail are increasingly moving core applications to the cloud in a bid to simplify management.
While cost overrides risk, it does not entirely negate it. Security has time and time again been highlighted as a major inhibitor of widespread cloud adoption. And it is true that cloud solutions bring with them challenges around data protection, privacy, and governance that must be addressed by both cloud service providers and internal IT teams.
The ease with which cloud solutions can be procured also creates concerns around the issue of shadow IT, where individual business units purchase solutions without the IT department’s knowledge. Shadow IT causes governance issues and can increase the number vulnerability points when the IT department is not involved in ensuring compliance with internal security standards.
Organisations seeking to deploy enterprise mobility solutions will need to prioritise user experience, because any deployment that interferes with the provision of a seamless experience can negatively impact productivity and business outcomes. Risk is also a critical factor in this regard, since mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and wearables all add to the number of vulnerability points for maliciously accessing the corporate network. It is not that cost does not matter in the enterprise mobility discussion, but if the user experience is poor then the cost effectiveness of the solution becomes irrelevant as it will not secure that all important user buy-in.
A similar set of criteria apply to social business solutions, if the user experience is below par then the platform will soon become redundant. Risk is a critical criterion not only from an information security standpoint but also from a PR perspective, particularly given the sensitivity of corporate communications and the potential that exists for data leakage, with users often failing to appreciate the added responsibility that comes with manning a corporate social media account. As such, IDC encourages organisations to implement relevant guidelines and train their employees on proper corporate communication use.
In relation to big data analytics, organisations must weigh all three factors equally, as these technologies involve high-value information and inform high-level decision making. Both IT and the business must take cost into account since data aggregation and classification use up a considerable amount of time and resources. Risk is a critical consideration as the solutions in question have access to various levels of information, which raises concerns about sensitive data being compromised.
The importance of the user experience is often overlooked when it comes to big data analytics, but the information made available by these solutions must be both easy to understand and easy to consume. IT departments that fail to grasp the importance of this factor run the risk of jeopardising the potential success of their big data initiatives before they have even begun. The introduction of key performance indicators will help in this regard, as will the implementation of self-service dashboards that allow users to access and review information in whatever manner they deem fit.
So, as you can see, the weighting given to cost, risk, and user experience considerations naturally varies from one technology to another, but what is a universal success factor across each of the four pillars is how well the IT department engages with the business. This is because the consumption of cloud, mobile, social, and big data analytics helps merely to lay the foundations for digital transformation to be truly digital, the organisation must ensure proper alignment between IT and business.
Securing buy-in from line-of-business headstand the CEO is therefore a must, and there needs to be a common vision in place right across the organisation, with a clear end goal in mind. To ensure the highest chance of success, IT and the business must work hand in hand to determine what metrics are critical, what level of risk is acceptable, and how best to deliver high standards of user experience. Only then can IT truly move on from being a business enabler to being integral to the business itself.
Jyoti Lalchandani is Group Vice President and Regional Managing Director for IDC Middle East, Turkey and Africa.