The need to adapt ever faster to changing markets has put the spotlight on the role of the company IT department as a change-driver. Fast as they are however, it appears that IT departments can no longer keep up with the pace of change required.

Technology Advances Make IT Tasks Increasingly Difficult

IT departments have become the centre of attention in companies, and with good reason. The fact is that for most, if not all, businesses, IT is the main contributor to productivity growth. The evolution in IT tools has been rapid and these capabilities have certainly benefited production planning. However, a recent study from Forrester, the independent technology and market research specialist, reveals that although information technology has progressed exponentially since the 1980s, the human resources, especially IT experts, are no longer managing to keep up very effectively with the series of digital revolutions that have been taking place and their skills are becoming increasingly obsolescent. However, the report indicates that it is first and foremost IT service structures that lack flexibility.

Incidents coming thick and fast

According to the report, changes in various production processes have underlined speed as a major competitive factor in many markets. With the implementation of just-in-time production, and even more so with the advent of a more personalised, smaller scale, product approach, speed-to-market is now a crucial factor for companies. The study carried out by Forrester corroborates this, with 58% of the 155 senior IT decision-makers from Fortune 1000 companies polled, saying that delivering IT services faster was among their top priorities over the next two years, compared with 50% who mentioned their intention to focus on improving the quality of their IT services. The report also shows that on average only 30% of the IT managers surveyed judged the quality of execution of their IT services to be excellent. The detailed figures offer an even worse picture, as only 12% of those polled say that their IT changes have a 95% or higher positive impact rate on their production, while 46% of the respondents say that major negative incidents affecting company operations tend to occur when new IT procedures are implemented.

The need for speed

These incidents and problems alluded to by the IT decision-makers polled do not arise just from a lack of talent or skills. The Forrester researchers highlight the fact that the tools are highly complex. While theoretical complexity is constantly on the increase, the real complexity of the tools, using what the Forrester experts call ‘accelerant’ technologies, such as virtualisation, agile development, Cloud services and mobile devices, seems to have a far greater impact. The authors of the study argue that the best response to this complexity is automation. Lightening the workload of IT staff could moreover also have a positive impact on productivity. However, while the IT managers surveyed said that in 2013 an average 66% of structural changes could

By Quentin Capelle