In the past, IT departments tended to lead the adoption of technology to support core business activity. When a new technology such as desktop computers came to market, it took some time for businesses to take advantage of it and even longer for the business to become dependent on it. Once it was adopted however, it became subject to business rules, subject to the expectation that it kept up to date with the rest of the market. 

[easy-tweet tweet=”Adopting technology-as-a-service models has changed the way #technology and applications are used” user=”comparethecloud”]

This environment has changed. Today, most organizations operate digitally, adopting technology-as-a-service models that have changed the way technology and applications are used. Support now comes from external vendors and not in-house staff. With adoption of cloud as a service model it is becoming increasingly possible to not have an IT department at all.

digitalisation cannot be held back, particularly in the era of Cloud, Big Data, and the Internet of Things

IT in business

Most IT departments to this day remain close to their technology roots. This is partly because they continue to be run by technologists and engineers whose primary interest lies in the adoption and challenge presented by new technology. However, not every highly qualified engineer makes a good business person, but most organizations promote people who are good at their jobs into management.

This has resulted in many IT departments traditionally not being run as a business and good models for how IT should run have been piecemeal or slow to develop. This is despite the key role that IT has increasingly had in enabling digital business and in turn influencing how that business should be run. While some standards have been developed as guides for how different elements of IT should be run (COBIT for governance, ITIL for service management, TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, for architecture), there has been no overarching standard that can encompass how all of IT should be holistically managed. Despite all the technological advances, IT has yet to become a smooth-running business machine.

No longer business as usual

With today’s emphasis on business and technology agility, everything happens nearly instantaneously

Both the business and technological climate isn’t the same as it was when companies took years to implement a software upgrade. With today’s emphasis on business and technology agility, everything happens nearly instantaneously. With this pressure (among many others) facing IT, departments need to either change or adopt a model where IT is more effectively managed. Failure to do so will result in a certain level of chaos that will hinder an organisation from achieving its business objectives.

The absence of an effective management model for IT means that companies aren’t able to move quickly in a digital age. Even an inability to utilise data effectively in future could result in problems when looking to invest in a new product that customers are keen to use. Such mistakes can be the difference between success and failure in the modern economy.

By adopting a coherent business model for the IT operation, you are able to make better choices for your IT department. With technology evolving so quickly, you have to be able to understand what will help achieve your organisation’s business goals.

[easy-tweet tweet=”IT departments without a good business model and strategy will not know when to invest in the correct technologies”]

IT departments that do not have a good business model and have not aligned their portfolios with the business strategy will not know when to invest in the correct technologies and as a result may miss out on the new technologies that could provide significant business benefit. The absence of a framework to map how new technology could fit into the business will still result in a very advanced department technologically, but not one able to support the broader business. 

A new world for IT

To help avoid the consequences for the IT department if it isn’t run more like a business, industry leaders have collaborated and formed a consortium that addresses how to better run the business of IT. With billions invested in IT every year these companies recognised that such investment must be made wisely to show long term results.

The Open Group’s IT4IT™ Forum

The result is The Open Group’s IT4IT™ Forum, which in October released its first standard for running IT more like a business. This standard provides a unified operating model for IT, supplying the “missing link” that previous IT-function specific models don’t address. The standard allows IT to achieve the same level of business, discipline, predictability and efficiency as other business functions.

The time is right for IT4IT as digitalisation cannot be held back, particularly in the era of Cloud, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.  The IT4IT standard places IT at the heart of a business model that allows IT to be a core part of the modern enterprise, providing a clear path for digital businesses to compete and thrive for many years to come.

David Lounsbury, Chief Technical Officer, The Open Group

David is Chief Technical Officer for The Open Group. As CTO he ensures that the people and IT resources at The Open Group are effectively used to implement the organisation’s strategy and mission, including The Open Group’s proven processes for collaboration and certification both within the organisation and in support of third-party consortia.

David holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and is holder of three U.S. patents.

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