November 1, 2017
Salesforce recently released its 2nd annual State of I.T. Report featuring insight into the evolving role of IT and the changing technologies that will enable success. The study looked at three types of IT organizations – Under Performers, Average Performers, and High Performers. It surveyed top executives at each type of organization regarding priorities for the future and outlook on emerging technologies. The overall takeaway from the report’s insight is that across all industries and performance levels, IT is moving towards a customer driven era. While IT has always been a mostly behind the scenes of the customer experience, high performing organizations are placing the end user front and center in their digital transformation efforts. The report is broken down into four categories, each representing a cultural or technological shift in how IT performance is enabled and evaluated.
1 – Lines Blur Between I.T. and Business Units
Instead of IT being viewed through the traditional lens of a cost center, it is beginning to take a role more akin to a value based service broker. This is taking the form of a more collaborative working environment between IT and the departments they enable. Some key insights from this section include:
- 77% of IT teams say improving collaboration with other lines of business is a high priority
- 61% of IT leaders say providing a single view of the customer is a high priority in the next 12 – 18 months
- High performing organizations are 3.2x more likely than underperformers to see unifying the customer view as a crucial priority
- Only 29% of organizations have integrated 75% or more of their data sources
Despite ranking as a top priority, unifying the organizational view of a customer faces 3 distinct challenges around security, difficult to integrate legacy systems, and lack of visibility to where data is stored. According to the report, the next 12 – 18 months will be crucial to determining whether these issues can be overcome.
2 – The Innovation Imperative Tips the Scale
The number one challenge for IT teams to meeting strategic business objectives is internal business innovation. This is not new as many IT leaders are familiar with the struggle between innovation and maintaining the status quo, or as the report puts it – “keeping the lights on.” The two major takeaways from this section are how IT is automating tasks to allow their employees more leeway to focus on innovation, and the emergence of new technologies that will drive innovation in the future. Some other key insights include:
- 81% of IT organizations will increase their level of automation to allow team members to focus on innovation
- The Cloud, A.I. and Mobile Technologies are expected to have the greatest transformational impact on business by 2020
- 65% of organizations plan to increase the amount of data stored in the cloud in the next 12 – 18 months.
The section also highlights the critical IT skill gap faced by almost every organization regardless of performance level. In emerging technology fields ranging from IoT, Data Science, Mobile Development, and Security only 22% of businesses report having no skills gap in business domain knowledge.
IT Tackles the Struggle for Speed
The speed of process and application delivery is another major priority across all IT organizational performance levels. Speed appears over and over again in breakdowns of business priorities, KPIs and top challenges. So, while speed is receiving a lot of attention, the formula for delivering faster applications and support is still largely unknown.
- 76% of IT leaders say speed of application/project delivery is a critical or very important KPI
- High performing IT organizations are 2.9x more likely to view speed of development as a critical priority in the next 12 – 18 months
- 74% of IT leaders plan to shift application build responsibilities to the business user in the next 12 – 18 months
As the last data point would indicate, an emerging solution to the IT speed problem is a shift towards citizen development – business users creating apps in IT sanctioned development environments. However only 24% of organizations agree that they have the appropriate governance policies and training programs in place to enable such an initiative.
IT Prepares for the Flood of AI
Customer expectations around A.I. are outpacing organizations capacity to meet those expectations. Three quarters of business buyers anticipate that by 2020 companies will anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they’ve made contact with the organization. While IT departments are aware of the coming A.I. revolution, most are ill prepared for the role it will take within their organization.
- Only 20% of IT leaders say they have a comprehensively defined AI plan
- High performers are 2.9x more likely to have an AI plan in place
- Only 25% of organizations feel they have the internal skillset to execute an AI business strategy
While organizations are aware of the coming AI revolution, few have given it adequate attention when designing forward looking policies and procedures.
Overall this report highlights the ways high performing IT teams are differentiating themselves from the pack. The research shows that top performers have a trifecta of overlapping priorities including: innovating for disruption, gaining a single view of the customer, and improving employee experience by leveraging a slew of new technologies and approaches. Only time will tell how business evolve to meet these dynamic challenges.