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IBM Report: A Strong Infrastructure Strategy Improves Business Success

A recent IBM study found that more than 70 percent of companies recognize that IT infrastructure plays an important role in enabling a competitive advantage or optimizing revenue and profit. Despite that, a well-defined enterprise IT infrastructure strategy is said to be in place by only 22 percent of respondents.

To provide more value to their company today and beyond, IT organizations need to position themselves to become both valued service provider and trusted adviser. Organizations need to both prepare for future technologies and put a current culture in place where people across all departments work together, the IBM report states.

The second of two IT infrastructure reports by the IBM Institute for Business Value, “Continuing the IT Infrastructure Conversation” focuses on how IT groups can work together to capitalize on trends for business success today and beyond.

The reports are based on a survey of 750 CTOs, CIOs and other senior technology executives from a variety of industries and company sizes in 18 countries. The reports identified two groups: Strategic IT Connectors and Siloed IT Operators. Strategic IT Connectors are a small number of leading organizations already working in tandem with their line-of-business leaders on challenges related to the next generation of IT while Siloed IT Operators are those organizations that lack strategic preparedness and connection to the business.

While both groups agree that cross-domain knowledge (e.g., server, storage and network) is a top skill to support an IT infrastructure, the two groups did not agree on what other skills are needed. Strategic IT Connectors say business knowledge and analytics are important, while Siloed IT Operators feel database knowledge and application development are key. This shows that Strategic IT Connectors understand the issues and skills needed for growth.

However, almost half of the IT executives in the survey say it’s a challenge to keep up with business requirements, including managing upgrade cycles and the ongoing learning requirements as new technology emerges and experienced employees retire.

On top of that, only 30 percent of IT executives say they are successful at providing IT infrastructure solutions to support business needs and that 34 percent believe their organization looks to IT to provide expertise in selecting technology services. And as only 22 percent of organizations have a well-defined enterprise IT infrastructure strategy and roadmap, this means it could be difficult for all parts of the organization to work together with a successful strategy in the future. The first report, “The IT Infrastructure Conversation,” discusses how companies with a strong IT structure have a competitive advantage. The study found the Strategic IT Connectors were better prepared to leverage the megatrends in IT—including mobile, social, cloud, and big data and analytics—than the Siloed IT Operators.

Read an interview with Jacqueline D. Woods, co-author of the IT infrastructure reports, in the IBM Systems Magazine article “IBM Study Reveals Why a Strong IT Foundation Changes the Conversation.”

Read more about both reports on IBM’s IT infrastructure conversation page.

Valerie Dennis Craven is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor.

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