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Study: CIO and CTO execs, procurement pros ID common pain points

An Insight Enterprises survey of CIO and CTO executives and procurement professionals finds agreement between IT and business operations on typical technology pain points.

In a sign of IT and business alignment, CIO and CTO executives and procurement professionals share similar views...

on technology pain points, from data center transformation to digital innovation.

That's one takeaway from a newly released survey from Insight Enterprises Inc., an IT products and service provider based in Tempe, Ariz. The survey of 104 CIO and CTO executives and 105 procurement professionals, who represented the business operations side of the enterprise, found 77% of the CIO and CTO respondents and 66% of the procurement survey takers identified the task of managing complex workloads across the cloud and data centers as a stumbling block.

While maintaining essential IT infrastructure remains a chore, enterprises also struggle with more forward-looking initiatives, such as digital innovation. According to the Insight survey, 69% of the CIOs and CTOs and 68% of the procurement professionals cited developing data-driven insights and delivering technology to boost customer and employee experience as a problem area.

The study, dubbed the 2018 Intelligent Technology Pulse, also revealed the need for organizations to accommodate a more connected workforce and optimize supply chains as other common pain points.

Mike Guggemos, CIO at Insight, said the study, as a whole, underscores the long-standing trend of IT groups spending most of their time keeping the lights on, as opposed to pursuing strategic initiatives. He expected that pattern to change over time, but said the new survey shows that approach continuing.

"The most surprising part [of the CIO and CTO survey] is so many of the teams in organizations ... today are still essentially consumed with getting through the week and the quarter and not so much focused on things of strategic value, or ultimate value, to their organizations," he said.

The focus on tactical IT may be hindering digital innovation, or digital transformation projects. A 2017 report from market researcher Ovum found only 8% of the IT executives it surveyed believe they have achieved transformation, while just 16% consider themselves well-advanced.

Gartner describes the dichotomy between established, well-understood systems and more innovative systems as bimodal IT. The market researcher views the former category, known as Mode 1, as IT systems that can be managed via best practices and may also be automated. Mode 2 represents systems given more to experimentation and minimum viable product development approaches.

Chart showing the Mode 2 aspect of bimodal IT
Bimodal IT spans predictable and experimental systems

Steps toward tech adoption

How can IT executives and procurement professionals break the stranglehold of lights-on IT?

Most people jump immediately to technology. And because of that, something north of 70% of large IT activities fail.
Mike GuggemosCIO at Insight

Guggemos suggested four steps for overcoming the pain points of absorbing technology, based Insight's own methodology. The key, he said, is not starting with technology. The first step, Guggemos said, is envisioning. That is, what are a customer's expected outcomes? What does the customer want users to experience? He said IT organizations should help their in-house business customers develop a narrative -- what a software developer might call a user story.

The second step is examining what processes an organization needs to modify or cancel and what new processes it will need to create in order to make the user story a reality. In the third step, the organization should assess what skill sets and personnel it needs to have in place to achieve the new user experience. This phase could involve training existing personnel, hiring new employees or bringing in a third-party for help, Guggemos explained.

The fourth step addresses technology. Here, the IT team assesses whether it has the technology tools on hand to realize the vision defined in step one. If they don't exist, a decision must be made on whether they can be developed in-house or acquired from a third-party provider, Guggemos said. In this last step, the organization also evaluates the cost model.

Avoiding failure

Overall, an enterprise ideally starts the IT adoption task with the people side of the people-process-technology triad, he said. An organization needs to begin with people who will modify the process or processes that pave the way for technology implementation. Starting with the process makes the job five times more difficult, according to Guggemos, while starting with the technology makes the job 10 times harder.

"Most people jump immediately to technology," Guggemos said. "And because of that, something north of 70% of large IT activities fail. The reason they fail is people fail to take into account the people and the process layers."

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