It’s that time of year again! As many of you know Gartner publishes a report that summarizes survey results that they send to CIO’s across the globe to find out where their business and technology priorities are for the coming year. I love this report because it helps me talk to people about the importance of connecting the dots between technology and business strategy.
Upgrading a system for the sake of upgrading is never a winning proposition. Having your only known compelling event be an end-of-life notice from the manufacturer will never get you very far. Worse, if that’s all you have, it becomes clear that the business doesn’t really see any value to the investment that they make in that product or technology. The dilemma we face is that many people we talk to, while usually key “influencers”, don’t really know what the business’s overall strategic initiatives are. So, asking them for that information usually ends up with a statement of “I’m not really sure. I have more reality kinds of things to worry about.” So, I tend to not ask them as an open ended question. Instead, I tell them this list is what other companies have as their strategies, and then ask if they think their priorities are similar. I tend to get “I think our priorities are the same, but maybe in a different order”. Perfect! Now we have an agenda to talk through.
The last couple of years, Gartner has changed the format of the report. They no longer do a top 10 business priority list. Fortunately, the technology priority list is still intact and probably even more relatable to the customers we talk to. I’ve provided the list below, showing this year’s results, as well as the 4 years prior. I think it’s important to look at the trending over the past years. It helps to see whether a specific technology is rising or falling in terms of interest. The rising ones are easy. They haven’t figure it out yet, and are now devoting time (and budget) to solving that problem. The falling ones can be just as important as the rising ones though, as these are ones that customers feel like they have a solid plan in place and are already in execution mode for that plan. It also helps me talk confidently to customers saying things like “Well, if you’re like everyone else, you’re already doing this, or well on your way. We should talk about how we can help.” That usually gives the response of “Why, yes, we are working on that. While the overall goal has been set, I’m really not sure how I’m going to get it done. You’re very insightful. And good looking. You can help me?” Well, ok it never really goes exactly like that, but you get the idea.
Couple of key takeaways I see from these trends…
- People are looking for more ways to provide visibility into their business (ie Analytics and BI have been #1 for 4 years in a row). Clearly, companies have not solved this issue. They may do a great job at getting the data, but they don’t do a great job of using it. They don’t correlate and connect the pieces together.
- Cloud is back at #3. It started falling last year. Businesses thought they had it figured out, but soon realized they did not. I think this is also about different phases of Cloud. In previous years, I firmly believed that most people thought of Cloud for “hosted” storage and compute. Everyone figured out their plan for that. They’re now realizing Cloud is much more than that. SaaS (Software as a Service) is a fairly common deployment model for most software applications. Again, I don’t think companies have fully figured out their plan here. Yes, I see a lot of procurement departments making their business units (like Telecom) ask about vendors’ Cloud offers. But most still have no clue why or what true value is.
- People are becoming more comfortable with their mobile strategy, as evidenced by the downward trend. It doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
- Security is slowly making its way to the top. This is such a huge and important conversation to have. I think the reason why we’ve been hearing about so many security breaches is because people aren’t paying enough attention to it (as indicated by its traditionally lower priority). This is definitely changing. Companies are now assessing their risk and taking action. PasswordPro is one example of an Arrow SI developed application easing the customer’s burden of securing their systems.
There are certainly more insights that can be drawn from this list, but this is a good start. Hopefully, this list can offer some insight into what’s happening in the world of IT and in business.
If you want to read an overview of the report, you can find it here http://www.gartner.com/imagesrv/cio/pdf/cio_agenda_insights2015.pdf.