Optimize IT Operations to Drive Business Value

April 03, 2017

Contributor: Christy Pettey

Gartner Q&A with analyst Katherine Lord explores the future of IT operations.

Today's IT operations are far beyond business as usual with the emergence of the digital workplace. Business users work differently than in the past and are demanding new technology and user experiences. Mandates that IT must "go faster" are now the norm, and IT operations leaders are facing constant change and new challenges in their efforts to enable and support the business and drive value.

Katherine Lord, research director at Gartner discussed the challenges facing IT operations leaders as they embrace new methods and emerging technologies to drive business outcomes.

Q: What are some of the key concerns and challenges for IT operations leaders right now?

A: The IT operations role is vital to the health and success of IT. But these are challenging times. We’re in an age where technology is rapidly evolving, and with that comes a huge shift in how business units engage with IT. They’re expecting a different level and type of engagement and support.

Additionally, agility has become part of the vernacular. How does IT operations increase velocity and become more nimble and responsive to business needs — and still balance stability?

“ It’s time to rethink traditional paradigms and time for a new mindset.”

These are the kinds of concerns IT operations leaders are constantly facing — ones that are keeping them up at night. It’s not just about technology anymore, and this is what a lot of IT operations folks find frustrating. It’s no longer as simple as “a tool will fix the problem.”

Q: Given these challenges, what shifts should IT operations make to maximize relevance to the business?

A: It’s time to rethink traditional paradigms and time for a new mindset. Historically, IT operations has been perceived as a cost center, a backbone if you will. But now it’s much more complicated than that. IT operations needs to innovate, predict, learn, evolve and also embrace the importance of developing a deeper business acumen, in essence, running IT operations as a business within the business.

Q: How do typical concerns like cost optimization fit into the idea of rethinking traditional paradigms?

A: Optimizing costs, which entails driving efficiencies wherever possible, is an ongoing responsibility and reality for IT operations. Infrastructure and operations (I&O) represents a significant amount of the total IT budget. Granted, a good portion of that is devoted to “run” costs. However, by reducing these costs, budget can be freed up to grow and transform the business. Optimizing costs means finding better ways to automate, innovate and create efficiencies across the organization.

Successful cost optimization should be a continuous exploration of technology and approaches that add business value. In the past, IT operations focused on the cool technologies for the sake of cool new technologies. It was a very “inside out” approach. But now it’s paramount that everything be rooted in business outcomes. What does the business need? What does that need look like? And how will we nail it down in terms of strategy and execution?

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