Developing an Agile IT Experience in the Enterprise

By: Esther Shein| - Leave a comment

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For years, the specter of failing to “keep the lights on” haunted IT leadership, but now, the worry has become how to develop an agile IT staff. There’s growing recognition among C-level executives that a business’s ability to be competitive and successful is strongly intertwined with how IT performs.

Almost one-third of IT spend occurs outside of the IT department and its budget, according to TechRepublic. The new normal is for CIOs to wear two hats: controlling traditional IT business and advising the rest of the organization on digital initiatives they want to deploy. At the same time that leadership is striving to create agile IT, it remains under pressure to cut costs.

Shifting to Agile IT

An agile transformation requires both top-down and bottom-up leadership, says Scott Richardson, chief data officer at Fannie Mae, in an interview with McKinsey. You need teams that are “forward-leaning and energetic” as well as continuous, clear, public, top-level support, he says. At Fannie Mae, Richardson guided the management team to chose people with the skills they were looking for, such as seniority and attitude, and created teams that were set up to succeed.

On the technology side, enterprises need to adopt a new mindset so IT can focus on offering services instead of just deploying devices and systems. An IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) framework with a robust catalog of modular offerings is a good starting point.

An enterprise transformation will also benefit from cognitive technology, which takes advantage of operational data and applies artificial intelligence and analytics to optimize IT environments based on business needs. With an ITaaS platform, IT leaders can augment the skills of their teams, utilizing cognitive insights for faster, data-driven decisions, thus leading to an agile IT environment.

The benefits are compelling: The business will find a higher quality of service is being delivered because IT will be able to anticipate problems, reduce errors and respond more quickly to incidents and service requests.

Avoiding Mistakes Along the Way

Not surprisingly, “security first” is often the mantra of projects operating within IT. But this mindset can be taken too far and hamper IT agility with approaches to security that are overly stringent and bureaucratic, notes NetworkWorld. A better strategy is to find ways to maximize protection against threats with as minimal disruption as possible on IT agility.

Additionally, it may seem like a good idea to organize IT into different silos based on expertise in servers, storage, networking and virtualization. However, if every team uses its own tools that can’t share information and metrics, IT won’t be able to deploy new systems that are agile.

As executives endeavor to transform their businesses, they must remember two vital components of agile IT: a willingness to make a cultural change and leveraging technology to provide cognitive insights hidden in structured and unstructured data. After all, an organization’s data is one of its most strategic assets.

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About The Author

Esther Shein

Freelance Writer

Esther Shein is a freelance writer and editor specializing in technology, business and education. Her work has appeared in several online and print publications, including Inc., Computerworld, NetworkComputing, InformationWeek, BYTE, CIO, CMO.com and The Boston Globe. She has written thought leadership whitepapers, customer case studies and marketing materials in addition to news and feature articles. Prior to going freelance she was the editor-in-chief of Datamation, an online enterprise technology magazine. She was also a senior writer at eWeek (formerly PC Week) and worked at The Associated Press.

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