JR's IT Pad: The Evolution of IT – CIO’s move from builder to broker

This post was originally published to JR's IT Pad.


By John Rollason


The IT market is changing faster than ever. Industry trends including Cloud, Big Data, Mobile, Flash and the Software Defined Data Centre mean this will only accelerate. The landscape is changing for CIO’s as workloads are becoming more distributed and hybrid cloud becomes reality. So, given this complexity, what should CIO’s and the rest of us in IT be discussing and thinking about? Where you should be looking to save money and where to invest your time? The following '3-stage framework' is based on a talk given by Matt Watts, our EMEA Director of Technology & Strategy at a few events recently. Thought it was worth sharing.



1)      The cost of Commodity IT

The things IT has to do to support the business, necessary and time consuming, but typically add little value. Ask yourself the question ‘If I started today from scratch, what would IT do and not do?’ Once you’ve identified these Commodity areas you can make decisions about how to deal with them. Do you have them delivered to you as a Cloud service? Or do you build shared infrastructures that are highly efficient and automated to reduce the costs of running them. Typically a discussion focused on operational excellence and legislative requirements, rather than technology.


2)      The opportunity of Business Value IT

The things that create real value for your business, the applications that power your business, or the products that your business creates. With more focus here it’s amazing how much additional value IT can add through aggressive application of technology innovation. An example, accelerating test and development by enabling developers to instantly create database copies. The focus here should be providing high levels of automation and self-service.


3)      Be ready to invest in New Opportunities

Companies are looking to exploit data and information. Whether social media feeds like the Twitter Firehose (500,000,000 tweets streamed directly to you every day!), new analytics tools such as Hadoop to mine vast quantities of information for trends and patterns or BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) strategies to better enable your mobile workforce. For example, within NetApp IT we recently deployed a Hadoop solution, which has reduced queries on 24 billion records from 4 weeks to less than 10.5 hours, accelerating our team’s ability to respond to customer needs.  It enabled a previously impossible query on 240 billion records in less than 18 hours, further enhancing our proactive service capabilities. A recent survey by Vanson Bourne showed that 69% of C-level executives cite technology as one of the main reasons why business decisions are not being made quickly enough.


The CIO challenge

The opportunity for CIO’s to add value and competitive differentiation to the business increases exponentially as investment shifts from Commodity IT, to Business Value IT and New Opportunities. According to Gartner, 63% of IT budget is spent running current IT infrastructure, 21% on ‘Grow’ to meet the natural growth in application performance requirements and data, and only 16% on New Opportunities, where there is the potential to create the most value. This is the challenge for a modern CIO.  How do you maintain Operational Excellence whilst increasing investment on ways to add business value and exploit your unique data? How do you move from being a builder of IT to a broker of service?