VMware, Inc., a global leader in cloud infrastructure and business mobility, today announces research finding that almost two-thirds (60%) of UK business leaders believe the management of technology is shifting away from IT to other departments, as lines of business take charge of technology-led innovation in UK organisations.
 
The research among 200 IT decision makers and heads of lines of business finds that this decentralization* of IT is delivering real business benefits: the ability to launch new products and services to market with greater speed (56%), giving the business more freedom to drive innovation (63%) 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 (53%) and help attract better talent (37%).
 
This move, however, is not without its challenges. Leaders from across the business believe this is causing a duplication of spend on IT services (63%), a lack of clear ownership and responsibility for IT (62%) and the purchasing of unsecured solutions (59%). Furthermore, this decentralisation movement is happening against the wishes of IT teams, the majority (67%) of which want IT to become more centralised. In particular, IT leaders feel that core functions like network security and compliance (79%), disaster recovery/business continuity (46%) and storage (39%) should remain in their control.
 
“It’s ‘transform or die’ for many businesses, with a tumultuous economic environment and radically evolved competitive landscape up turning the way they operate,” says Joe Baguley, vice president & chief technology officer, EMEA, VMware. “Managing this change is the great organisational challenge companies face. The rise of the cloud has democratised IT, with its ease of access and attractive costing models, so it’s no surprise that lines of business have jumped on this opportunity. Too often, however, we’re seeing this trend left unchecked and without adequate IT governance, meaning that organisations across EMEA are driving up costs, compromising security and muddying the waters as to who does what, as they look to evolve.”
 
The ownership for driving innovation within organisations is not disputed among business leaders.  Almost 4 in 5 (77%) believe that IT should enable the lines of business to drive innovation, but must set the strategic direction and be accountable for security – highlighting 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. 
 
“This isn’t ‘Shadow IT’ anymore, that’s yesterday’s story – this is now ‘Mainstream IT’,” continues Baguley. “The decentralisation movement is happening, driven by the need for speed in today’s business world: we’ve never seen such a desire for new, immediately available applications, services and ways of working. By recognising these changes are happening, and adapting to them, IT can still be an integral part of leading this charge of change. The latest technology or application will only truly drive digital transformation when it’s able to cross any cloud, to be available at speed and with ease, within a secure environment.”
 
George Wraith, Head of ICT at New College Durham, also supports this view “Business models are being disrupted by the movement of IT services to outside the IT department. This is leading to cost, management and security inefficiencies,” he says. “This trend is not going away, and gives IT the opportunity to adapt, regain control and embrace it.”
 
Decentralisation definition
*The decentralisation of IT is when any employee within any business department of an organisation, other than the IT department, is making IT purchases or installing or maintaining software. It can also include employees using non-IT approved software, such as Dropbox, without the involvement of the centralised IT department.