By Matt Fisher
The selection, procurement, and funding of enterprise technology today is vastly different than it once was. In many cases, CIOs have had to relinquish their old roles and responsibilities—moving away from delivering technology products like enterprise software and hardware and towards brokering and delivering technology services and outcomes. The modern CIO and the IT departments they oversee are tackling challenges that their predecessors would’ve been little prepared to overcome. They’ve evolved to become enablers of business and proponents of innovation.
To retain power, earn buy-in from other areas of the business, and reaffirm the value of IT, CIOs must anticipate the new challenges of today’s cloud-first, “everything-as-a-service” era—applying new tricks and tools of the trade to adapt to the new enterprise IT status quo.
Tectonic Shift in Spending Power
Analysts are seeing a shift in technology spending power in organizations around the world—moving away from IT-procured systems and toward business-funded technology consumption. Unprecedented ease-of-use and accessibility has given non-IT employees the power to spin up a virtual machine (VM) or cloud environment to work in, without the support—or even knowledge of—the IT department. Likewise, enterprise software applications (apps) procured individually by business units and that are unknown by IT could duplicate licenses the organization is already paying for via an enterprise agreement.
While the CIO is still the person the board turns to when trying to understand increasing technology spend, it is critical that they know what is being purchased and consumed and why.
A typical corporate network can have tens of thousands of distinct software titles running on-premises or in the cloud. To create the visibility necessary to manage all these apps, CIOs turn to discovery and advanced data analytics solutions to show both physical and virtual assets that exist within the organization. These tools enable them to report on technology consumption and scrutinize it—fulfilling their obligation to the business to be the guardian of technology spend.
Containing Runaway Cloud Costs
In addition to reporting on technology consumption and spending across the organization, CIOs are responsible for optimizing cloud costs and planning for those in the future. That becomes increasingly difficult as the cloud services in use—including software as a service, platform as a service, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and a host of other as-a-service offerings—increase in number and become more differentiated. For the modern CIO, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) represents the greatest potential for runaway financial risk, especially as more vendors move legacy users over to new consumption-based pricing models.
Optimizing IaaS costs begins with knowing the who, what, and why of VMs. Typically, a bill from a vendor only provides a list of environments and the costs—lacking detail on who set up the VM and whether it’s still in use. To ensure all IT budget going toward IaaS is creating value, CIOs must understand what services have been ordered, which ones are being used, and whether that usage matches a business need. If it happens to be a non-IT procured environment, they must also know which business unit should be footing the bill.
Today, automation is essential for managing growing cloud costs. Through the creation of an intelligent self-service system, IT creates rules for cloud environment set up, take down, and tagging—typically manual processes that assign information needed to manage IaaS. Delegating these processes and documentation efforts to an automated system means specific protocols are followed and IT team members have more time to devote to other projects.
Pressure to Innovate
Just as businesses must innovate to bring new products or services to market, the same can be said of the CIO and the IT team. IT is no longer primarily charged with building and delivering technology to the rest of the organization. Instead, most analysts and pundits agree that the future role of the IT team is to help the business select, procure, and consume the right technologies for their needs. Gartner recently announced that, “At least 84 percent of top CIOs surveyed have responsibility for areas of the business outside traditional IT. The most common are innovation and transformation,” in its 2017 newsroom post, Gartner Survey of More Than 3,000 CIOs Confirms the Changing Role of the Chief Information Officer.
Beyond remaining up to date on emerging technology trends, innovation depends on a CIO’s ability to work in lock-step with the business. This means embracing business unit IT, which in some cases is where the challenges originate. The fact is, cloud-deployed apps and environments enable businesses to outperform competition. Rather than acting out of self-interest and attempting to control all technology procurement, the modern CIO has survived and thrived by helping the business and IT fly in formation. They’ve adopted new roles and responsibilities in their organizations and become chief executives overseeing all deployed and planned technologies.
The CIO of 2018 and beyond brings business units and IT departments together—applying technology needed to innovate without unnecessarily adding cost or risk to the wider organization. They’ve survived and thrived by embracing change, not fighting it, and leveraging new tools and technologies to help them along the way.
Matt Fisher is the SVP of product strategy at Snow Software.
May2018, Software Magazine