IT poised to ride business process spiral

Business process fusion will propel IT from a mere operational function to driving business growth and playing an integral part in an organisation.

The concept permeated the keynote address of Gartner’s 11th annual Symposium/ITxpo in Sydney yesterday, highlighting emerging trends which the analyst firm believes will “transform the IT value proposition”.

Gartner vice president and research fellow Simon Hayward, said, “Fusion can and will transform the way companies do business, releasing new energies that you need to manage and master, or you risk being mastered by them.”

Claiming IT's potential to transform the enterprise is still unrealised, Hayward said confidence in IT has soured under successive budget cuts, downsizing and an over-riding focus on mere survival.

However, this is set to change with Gartner predicting spending will increase a whopping 17 per cent from 2003 to 2004, up from 5 per cent growth in the 2002/2003 year.

Gartner senior vice president and chief of research for Asia-Pacific, Bob Hayward said the onus is on the enterprise to move toward growth not focus on the rocky path the IT sector has negotiated over the last few years.

The big challenge for organisations in the current climate is to make a deeper impact on the capabilities of the business, Hayward said. “That’s about using IT not just to automate business processes but to transform them.”

Hayward believes IT executives are now at a crossroads in how they measure IT’s performance within the business, moving away from a service and support mentality to a business transformation mindset.

“A new vocabulary is emerging and it’s centred on a dynamic, two-way relationship of IT with business processes. We’re seeing a renaissance in thinking about processes and a framework for IT investment," he said.

“But it’s not just about understanding and supporting, we’re also seeing a series of changes in the IT technologies and they way they’re being used to build the business applications that ultimately tie into those processes."

He said vendors need to explore new ways of offering business process-focused services.

“IT vendors offering just a machine or just an application are heading for extinction, or at least for a very quiet corner.

“We expect to see the vendors evolve from being sellers of equipment or software to business process innovators. This will go way beyond touting solutions or offering systems integration services or consulting services and support…to offering custom-built, utility-style business process technology that will make the organisation more competitive within [their] particular industry and allow them to focus on their core competencies,” Hayward said.

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