Transformation? Don’t Lose Sight of the Basics

The CIO’s role is all about strategic leadership and transformation, about the ability to align with business needs and to react nimbly to new requirements and integrate technology innovation.

But have we become so absorbed in these lofty goals that we’re losing sight of the fundamentals? A recent survey conducted by Compuware, reported in CIO magazine, found that 48 percent of business executives said they experience basic technology performance issues daily. Moreover, three out of four of those executives said the frequency and severity of these issues isn’t improving.

Such findings should serve as a wake-up call to CIOs (and I’ve talked with many of them) who view benchmarks of IT services as anachronistic and unnecessary, and who assume that they’ve picked the low-hanging fruit and have honed the efficiency of their IT service delivery close to a razor’s edge.

Is this view accurate?   Are IT organizations truly driving higher levels of efficiency?  Do they understand the costs of standard IT services and the costs of “gold-plated” services?  Do they truly understand the impact of Moore’s Law on compute and storage, cloud computing and the hyper-competitive software environment?

The IT ecosystem is more complex and disruptive than ever, and executives who ignore the potential to drive sustained improvement are missing an important opportunity. Indeed, ISG research shows that enterprises that benchmark on a regular basis achieve significant incremental savings over the long term. More importantly, benchmarks improve service quality by identifying and addressing performance gaps, thereby enabling corrective action to be taken so problems don’t recur.

Those who see benchmarks solely as a discrete tactical exercise are missing the point.  Benchmarks provide insight into how business decisions drive spend, and allow an enterprise to measure and improve the delivery of services throughout the process of transformational change. Benchmarks allow IT executives to “peek” into the future to understand the levers to control today’s costs, while investing in tomorrow.  Benchmarks also provide opportunities to create “what if” scenarios to understand the impact of the rapidly evolving technology landscape.

While benchmarks may be seen as a tactical exercise, they are a tactical exercise that brings credibility and numbers to support the strategic initiatives.  Keeping the lights on efficiently may not be exciting, but it’s better than having the lights go out or getting hit with a bill that is two times higher than that of your peers.  Strategic CIOs use benchmarking to effectively/efficiently manage their environment and to gain the needed insights to support strategic decisions.

About the author

For over 30 years senior executives have benefited from Mr. Linnell’s knowledge and guidance in information technology (IT) in his role as Account Director. Vern is among ISG's most experienced business development executives and has extensive expertise including the management and communication of strategic requirements. Vern’s clients benefit from his long-term experience in assessment and sourcing services spanning all industries and models.