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Most organizations rely on IT infrastructures that are teeming with new technologies, legacy systems and multiple vendors. It's been difficult for businesses to keep up with the changing landscape, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, IT leaders are detecting unforeseen and unrelenting pressure points in their operations that could, ultimately, become stress fractures if left untended.
Business leaders need to take a fresh look at what has changed over the past year and reevaluate where their organization stands to determine whether there are new or existing requirements to address. From there, they should assess and prioritize decisions that will benefit and align with the company's strategic business plans.
It's time to step off the treadmill and revamp the strategic IT roadmap starting with the following three steps.
Step 1: Assemble a cross-functional leadership team
The challenges leaders face today are rooted in fast-moving, companywide changes impacting the overall business. Addressing these issues requires an approach based on a reevaluation of the business model itself -- one that considers the future state of the organization and its overall purpose in the market.
For IT leaders, this means creating a rational and strategic IT roadmap that supports current needs and aligns with the desired future state. This can be done with an agile approach to ensure innovation needs are met cross-functional, line-of-business leaders are brought into the conversation and uniting that group together as one.
The team's purpose includes the following:
- making holistic, strategic decisions that consider today's pressures and tomorrow's goals;
- serving as a reliable source for insights from across the organization;
- bubbling up the ideas that will make the greatest impact on the bottom line; and
- functioning as a sounding board for new efforts and initiatives as they unfold.
The group should meet routinely and remain intact well after the urgency of the present moment has passed. Subsequently, the group can assess the effectiveness of previous decisions and iterate on new business models based on the evolving market.
Step 2: Realign the IT strategy to support the new business reality
CIOs can lead the way by using familiar, practical approaches, including taking stock of the current IT portfolio, engaging the cross-functional leadership team to understand the most current business goals and strategies, building a detailed strategy connecting the two, and executing.
While it sounds simple in theory, this approach will likely lead to some unexpected, complicated places such as finding new ways for cloud and mainframe to work together in a hybrid environment.
Deloitte's 2020 "Mainframe Market Pulse Survey" found 66% of respondents agreed hybrid cloud will become more prevalent in their IT infrastructure in the future. And market movements reflect that some are even taking the step of repatriating workloads hosted on public clouds in order to regain control over their data, operations and IT spend, among others.
Regardless of the organization's priorities, these findings indicate many are exploring new ways to maximize the capabilities, utility and effectiveness of preexisting technology investments to achieve better results at lower costs. Focusing on the organization's broader goals, as defined by cross-functional teams, can help CIOs guide and determine the parameters of innovation within this new reality.
Step 3: Reassess what it will take to skill up
Having the IT skills in place to deliver on strategy is critical. Existing strengths in different pockets of the organization can -- and should -- be an important input into the strategic IT roadmap itself. For example, if the IT team has deep skills in z/Linux, it may need to lean heavily on those resources by design.
Keeping security top of mind, prioritizing business goals and orienting strategy to fit the resources, skills and talent already in place have proven to be successful. Simultaneously, be open to pursuing strategies that take the IT organization out of its comfort zone if that's what business needs dictate.
For example, in Deloitte's survey, 54% of IT decision-makers said they plan to use outside resources to accomplish mainframe-related goals over the next three years. This indicates they may not have a deep bench of the needed talent but resolving that is a priority -- and it may be time to get creative.
It's time to come together
Negotiating the twists and turns still to come will involve heightened vigilance, preparation and flexibility. In 2020, IT leaders showed their ability to shift priorities to meet increased demands within compressed timelines and in response to entirely unexpected pressures. They have risen to challenge.
As such, prioritizing alignment with leaders across the business and recalibrating plans remains a priority. Because when tackling complexity begins, better business outcomes reveal themselves -- and if that's not a reason for IT and business leaders to come together, what is?
About the author
Terri Cobb has more than 20 years of experience in consulting and alliance management. A skilled and trusted advisor in Deloitte's Ecosystems and Alliances organization, she focuses on developing go-to-market strategies and building relationships to advance global engagement and drive growth opportunities. Terri currently leads Deloitte's alliance relationship with IBM and is responsible for global strategy and teaming. This role allows her to combine her consulting and technology expertise with her passion for innovation and collaboration.