2017 CompuCom Insights Series
Where in the IT Stack Technology Leaders are Focusing
We asked leaders what components of the IT stack are causing them the most concern. Applications, end-user devices, and middleware emerged as the main focal areas, in both the retail and financial services sectors.
Consumerization trends in IT are driving much of the concern and focus around applications, which must utilize the best of consumer design and experience, and middleware, which must integrate applications to back-end systems. Additionally, employees demand similar consumer experiences in the workplace, driving increased complexity in delivery and management of end-user devices for technology leaders. Consumerization trends, which focus heavily on digital capabilities, analytics, and cloud delivery of services, are not muscles of traditional IT organizations.
Common Mistakes Made Across the Stack
IT leaders have worked across the stack to drive incremental improvements and integrate new technology trends into their IT systems. Because these changes involve new technologies and muscles not deeply ingrained in IT organizations, there have been stumbling blocks along the way. Here are six of the biggest mistakes we’ve heard technology leaders mention:
- Continuing to patch old databases, APIs and middleware: There is often a desire to keep old systems because of organizational history and to push out large capital expenditures. However, over time they become more unwieldy and increasingly complex to maintain and integrate with new digital capabilities. Instead of “biting the bullet” and making major upgrades in these systems, our respondents indicated that some have continued to patch them, with devastating results.
- Assuming existing IT teams can deliver on new technology: New technology forces in data science, artificial intelligence and cloud are growing in significance and require new talent best sourced externally. While many felt these capabilities could be built in house, our respondents indicated they were left building weaker systems and suffered productivity.
- Forgetting about the entire IT value chain: Our respondents are most excited about the latest and greatest applications, content, infrastructure hardware and software, but they have neglected to consider the downstream elements of last-mile connectivity, system integration and servicing. We found that they frequently identify breakdowns in devices with moving parts, such as printers, scanners and ATMS, and when their newest piece of hardware breaks, they are left scratching their heads about who is going to service their devices.
- Not aligning functions on common goals and outcomes (business and IT): Business and IT oftentimes have trouble aligning on strategies to meet the timing, economic and operational needs of both groups. Time, resources and money are wasted when IT solutions do not solve the needs of the business. Interviewees persistently discussed how imperative it is for organizations to put processes in place that ensure IT leaders are aligned and strategies are solving both IT and business pain points.
- Picking a technology partner that does not have good governance models: Selecting a partner that has developed repeatable, scalable processes around communication, ticket tracking, dev/ops and API/dev integration is critical for large scale projects. Many interviewees indicated major project delays and cost overruns caused by selecting small scale technology partners to drive large projects who weren’t equipped to deal with the complexity and scale necessary to ensure best-in-class project management.
- Assuming that in-house IT systems are safer than off-premise cloud: Interviewees explained that many times they assumed their in-house systems are by default safer than off-premise cloud-based vendors. They explained that this can be risky and is not often the case — and many IT leaders have the cyberattack scars to prove it.
Implemented correctly, technology will continue to promise more value for businesses, placing increased pressure on IT leaders to provide faster, more reliable and more secure IT solutions. Working with an IT services provider can unburden your organization from having to address these pain points in isolation, and allows leaders to focus more time and energy on more strategic business concerns.
- IT leaders are being pressured to provide organization-wide solutions more quickly. They are generally giving the most attention to the stack components that they are most concerned with.
- Many IT leaders have made the mistake of not hiring the right people, not aligning IT leaders and not correctly prioritizing technology upgrades.
Our insights are based on our 2017 CIO survey, where we interviewed top CIOs and technology executives from the Fortune 500 in 12 market segments — spanning retail to financial services — as well as our deep expertise in deploying solutions for clients over the past 30 years.