Gartner Research

The Reality of IS Lite

Published: 01 September 2003

ID: G00117022

Analyst(s): Roger Woolfe, Chuck Tucker


It's been three years since the original EXP IS Lite report predicted the next stage in the evolution of IS organizations: that large, fully-integrated IS organizations would slim down to "lighter", more flexible organizations with smaller staffs and focused competencies via outsourcing of infrastructure services and migration of systems development to business unit IS organizations. Subsequent EXP reports have explored the competencies and leadership skills required to successfully manage the IS Lite evolution. As enterprises have evolved along the lines of the IS Lite model, each has faced different circumstances and developed different solutions along the path. These circumstances have impacted the pace of their IS Lite journey, the steps taken, and the end-state achieved. This report examines lessons learnt from implementing IS Lite: How has IS Lite proved different from basic IT outsourcing or decentralization? What organizational models have evolved for operationalizing IS Lite? What proven practices for implementing IS Lite have emerged?

Table Of Contents


Executive summary

  • IS Lite represents a lean and focused IS organization
  • Section 1: What is the extent of restructuring around IS Lite?
  • Section 2: What are the challenges in adopting IS Lite?
  • Section 3: How do you move toward the "Lite"?

What is the extent of restructuring around IS Lite?

  • IS Lite prediction: Four trends will lead to significant IS restructuring
  • Three IS Lite trends are clearly occurring
  • Application development in the business is much less evident
  • Greatest impact on IS and the business: Process-based working
  • IS Lite benefits are broad-based, except for cost reduction
  • Process-based working is the strongest contributor to benefits

What are the challenges in adopting IS Lite?

  • Two main challenges: Lack of competencies and IS resistance to change
  • Changing focus from technical to business and behavioral, and from cost to value, is challenging
  • IS Lite: Retains five key roles
  • IT leadership is the most important role
  • Business and behavioral IS Lite competencies are more difficult to acquire than technical competencies

How do you move toward the 'Lite'?

  • Step 1—Analyze your enterprise's business drivers to determine your IS Lite priorities
  • Step 2—Strengthen your IT leadership team's skills
  • Step 3—Centralize the IT architecture development role, to coordinate internal and external architectural direction
  • Step 4—Use the business enhancement role to encourage process-based working throughout your enterprise
  • Step 5—Use the technology advancement role to develop knowledge-sharing centers of excellence
  • Step 6—Centralize and expand the scope of the vendor management role
  • Step 7—Consolidate the roles in an IS Lite organization
  • Step 8—Demonstrate the business value of IT by running IS like a business

Further reading

  • EXP Reports
  • Core Research

©2021 Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Gartner is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. and its affiliates. This publication may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without Gartner’s prior written permission. It consists of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization, which should not be construed as statements of fact. While the information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartner research may address legal and financial issues, Gartner does not provide legal or investment advice and its research should not be construed or used as such. Your access and use of this publication are governed by Gartner’s Usage Policy. Gartner prides itself on its reputation for independence and objectivity. Its research is produced independently by its research organization without input or influence from any third party. For further information, see Guiding Principles on Independence and Objectivity.

Already have a Gartner Account?

Become a client

Learn how to access this content as a Gartner client.