Old mantras facilitate the decline of IT

IT leaders needed to escape the box that defines IT as a cost centre, as a service, as something apart from the business

The old mantras of "doing more with less" and getting "more bang for your buck" are threatening the viability of the modern IT organisation, according to Mark McDonald, Gartner's vice president of executive programs.

Speaking ahead of his presentation at the 2011 Gartner Symposium on the Gold Coast, McDonald said business conversations about delivering value needed to undertake a subtle but important shift.

"Sure there is more for less, but more is not value and the focus always tends to be on the less part," he said. "This mantra is asking IT to carry out the same set of responsibilities with less budget."

McDonald said IT leaders needed to escape the box that defines IT as a cost centre, as a service, as something apart from the business.

Elaborating on the conference theme of "re-imagining IT", McDonald said it is about imagining something greater than simply cost cutting or generating revenue through IT.

He said IT's real production function is speed, scale and choice.

McDonald leads Gartner's annual CIO Agenda survey of around 2,000 global CIO's which will be published in January, 2012.

While the survey is still out in the field, he said interim results have shown a significant shift in focus.

"The focus is away from IT to more broader technologies," McDonald said. "For example, business leaders today can be described as tech savvy but not IT savvy. They can use the Internet and mobile technologies whereas IT staff think more about data centres and building out systems which is a very different view.

"This new focus on technology isn't necessarily about IT. This means that IT needs to justify its role by being innovative and moving to the next level."

McDonald said IT needed to reform itself if it wanted to fit into this new way of thinking.

To do this, IT organisations need to reduce time to market, increase productivity and be innovative especially when it comes to the most strategic technologies such as mobility, social computing and cloud computing.

For organisations still allocating the bulk of IT budgets to keeping the lights on, Gartner said resources need to undergo a radical shift by moving services to the cloud.

"Liberate resources by utilising Internet-based resources and refocus on what really matters," McDonald said.

As well as delivering his keynote on the 2012 CIO Agenda today, McDonald is also launching his new book, The Social Organisation, which focuses on the business and management use of social media, rather than the actual technology.

In the book McDonald discusses his experience working with more than 300 companies who have successfully used social technologies to collect, and capitalise on, the wisdom of their employees.

It teaches leaders how to produce predictable business results using collaboration tools, and how to focus on desired results while freeing employees to create their own roadmaps.

It presents six core principles to help business leaders capitalise on social media.

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