Opinion: Mike Henson, Director Cloud and Managed Services, Trustmarque, looks at the increasing complexity of the role of the CIO.
For today’s CIO, there are more IT management challenges than ever before; the advent of cloud computing along with advances in mobile technology have added extra strain to their already heavy workload. Moreover, as the availability of cloud and mobile solutions has grown, so have the expectations of modern employees – who have come to see seamless, 24/7 access to dynamic IT solutions ‘as standard’. These factors have caused a significant increase in the complexity of contemporary IT infrastructures, which has made supporting IT a mammoth task.
Indeed, in recent research of CIOs conducted by Trustmarque and Vanson Bourne, a significant number of CIOs (86%) believe that IT management has become more complex over the last five years. At the same time, over three quarters (82%) of CIOs believe IT support has become a ‘growing burden’ on IT departments – in other words, not just a challenge, but a drain on resources. CIOs are finding emerging tech trends are complicating IT support to the point of becoming a burden, rather than a contributor to the success of the business.
Balancing old and new causes consistency complication
In addition to cloud applications and mobile solutions being rolled out across many businesses, the majority of CIOs also find themselves with a glut of legacy technology requiring their attention. The need to manage and support a myriad of technologies and services is therefore becoming more challenging for CIOs. With services and technologies being delivered via the cloud as well as on premise, many businesses are concurrently working with a number of different vendors with numerous SLAs in place.
This fact causes an issue for over half of CIOs (58%), who are finding it difficult to offer a consistent level of IT support across their business. Particularly for those CIOs supporting a lot of legacy technology, they must decide whether to continue to support their legacy IT, or to explore migration to the cloud – where support costs can be considerably lower. Whilst any move to cloud will require careful consideration, when balanced with the costs and difficulties of maintaining legacy IT, not to mention possible performance issues, cloud may be the best solution.
End-users do not appreciate the CIO’s challenge
Within the last five years, business IT has become easier to use than ever – modern employees have come to expect access to technologies and applications designed with ease of use and user experience front of mind. However, in the same timeframe, while IT has become easier to use, it’s simultaneously become harder to support. Indeed, 82% of CIOs believe the number of support ‘tickets’ raised has in fact increased over the last five years.
Today’s users’ expectations of IT are huge. Employees want to be able to use personal devices at work, to work on the move, to work in the cloud and collaborate with colleagues, and to use applications and services they are familiar with – not just the ones that are sanctioned by IT. However, end-users do not appreciate the difficulty involved in running a modern IT department.
Indeed, 81% of CIOs believe end-users fail to understand the complex management challenge the IT department faces. As CIOs become increasingly focused on delivering positive business outcomes by enabling staff through technology, then understanding the needs and expectations of employees is more important than ever.
The need to innovate rises up the CIO agenda
It’s not just end users with high expectations of the CIO; at board level, CIOs are expected to drive innovation throughout the business. However, contemporary IT departments are subject to many demands from the business in order to simply ‘keep the lights on’, which can leave little time for innovation.
The majority of CIOs are addressing this disparity, with over three quarters (77%) stating it is a priority to reduce the proportion of internal resource devoted to supporting ‘run the business’ IT.
For many CIOs, freeing time to support innovative and transformational IT projects means engaging the support of an external partner to part or fully outsource some IT services.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to IT management and support; CIOs must therefore work closely with their technology partners to help simplify the picture and smooth the path to digital transformation – empowering them to spend more time innovating and driving their organisations forward.