The past decade has seen a lot of essential changes in the enterprise technology landscape. In addition to rapid digitization and advent of new technologies like cloud computing, data and analytics, high-speed computing hardware, and cognitive computing, we have seen the consumerization of IT where technology is more accessible, affordable and usable by enterprise users. The new age of enterprise users and the convergence of several disruptive technologies has led to enterprises viewing their IT teams differently. The IT organization is no longer considered a small group of technical experts tucked away in a corner to emerge only for regular hardware or software purchases. IT is now seen as a strategic asset that needs to evolve from being a helpdesk and cost center to a growth enabler and a business value center.
Expectations from IT teams
Provide guidance and relevant information. IT needs to be a trusted partner with a thorough understanding of the various technology options, and should be able to support business activities.
Respond faster to business needs. We’re all aware that IT teams are generally perceived to be slow to respond to emerging requirements from business teams. But considering the pace of business growth today and the need for high-performance systems, the IT organization, is expected to be much more agile and responsive. And with IT being considered more of a competitive advantage, technology heads are expected also to anticipate business needs and complex set of requirements, and be prepared to offer what’s needed.
Deliver overall efficiencies. IT heads are expected to drive down the cost of operations and maintenance, while serving new initiatives and maintaining business as usual through technology investments. Striking this balance has always been a challenge. Today, with a greater emphasis on enterprise transformation, the expectation is even more.
It’s obvious then that business teams are looking for a more evolved value proposition from IT today, one that goes beyond just improving efficiencies and reducing costs. The expectation from IT is to directly impact business outcomes, and make them more profitable.
To help IT perform like a business unit and be accountable for business growth, demonstrating business value and be more transparent, Technology Business Management (TBM), or IT management with an integrated view of technology cost, performance, supply, and demand has gained traction among enterprises. TBM is an attempt to build a set of common principles and goals between the business and IT teams, so that demand for IT resources can be better planned and managed. TBM offers a set of detailed guidelines that boost the value derived from IT by improving IT costing, cost allocation, planning, and budgeting practices. The TBM framework, promoted by the TBM Council, is helping enterprises make better sourcing decisions.
The enterprise is better able to understand the full lifecycle cost of IT investments, while IT is better able to justify the business value of an investment. Who is using what IT resources? What IT investments will be required tomorrow? Are these costs the best fair market value? What IT resources overburdened or underutilized? How do SLAs impact IT costs and performance? These and several other questions are what TBM attempts to answer.
Changing business and technology paradigms
In this new model, IT brings to the table its knowledge of the technologies, the vendors and a deep understanding of stakeholder needs, with the aim to pick the right solution and the right partner. For instance, LTI Canada’s Unitrax® wealth and asset management platform manages financial assets of more than CAD 815 billion indirectly, so performance and security for their users is extremely important. As they prepared to onboard even more clients onto the platform, the IT team was already aware that an IT infrastructure upgrade was critical to support the increased workload and ensure the best performance and security for the platform as much as possible. Business did not just have to go as usual, but had to be faster, more secure and more enduring.
LTI Canada worked with IBM and business partner Mid-Range Computer Group Inc., to upgrade IBM i on POWER7+ environment to new Power Systems S924 servers.
This meets with TBM’s guidelines, where the IT department is expected to:
Advise business teams on technology-driven innovation. They act as a consultant and raise technology awareness.
Discover evolving solutions and technologies. The IT team can be equipped to develop R&D capabilities so as to find and understand emerging technologies that have good business potential, and even pilot new initiatives.
Evaluate value of existing infrastructure and future needs. As the enterprise grows, its IT set up is going to proliferate. The IT team has to continuously evaluate it and measure performance, quality, and value.
Build an understanding of business needs and serve them. In a serious step up from its erstwhile “helpdesk role”, IT will need to play a larger role in business by building its knowledge of business strategy, business processes, and market offerings, so that it can better assist business growth. This will help IT provide a holistic approach to creating enterprise value by taking a cross-enterprise perspective.
Importance of TBM in today’s competitive environment
With growing, IT spends and increasing complexity of demands from IT, transformation of enterprise IT is inevitable. The future of enterprise IT lies in it like any business unit, increasing transparency, and measuring efficiency and effectiveness. The focus needs to shift from technical value delivered to business value realization of IT related investments. TBM plays a pivotal role in providing tech leaders with guidelines and frameworks to transform enterprise IT from a cost center to a partner in business growth.
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