IT departments regaining strategic control but not responsibility for IT budgets

Vanson Bourne, a leading market research organisation for enterprise technology trends, has announced the findings of its third annual State of Enterprise IT insight programme, measuring how attitudes to IT and technology are changing in large organisations in the US and UK.

The new research finds that strategic power has swung back to the IT department – in last year’s research 28% said the department was not involved in strategic decisions at all, which has dropped to just 19% this year. As a result, six in ten respondents say that the IT department is now driving innovation and new technology adoption, up from four in ten who reported this last year.

Additionally, the research shows that the trend for IT spend happening across the organisation continues, as only 34% of respondents say that the IT department is solely responsible for IT spend, down from 40% last year. Departments like marketing, finance, and compliance continue to buy IT products and services, most likely department-specific cloud-based software (44%) and other cloud services (40%).

In-depth interviewing with decision makers in such departments has revealed that the IT department is seen as a supportive enabler of such purchases, rather than “roadblock” that they were seen as previously.

Vanson Bourne surveyed 200 IT decision makers in the US and 100 in the UK to understand how the politics around technology strategy and purchasing in enterprise organisations are changing. Additionally, ten in-depth discussions were performed with business decision makers in UK organisations to get a deeper insight into IT attitudes across the whole of the business.

The resulting insight shows a dramatic shift year-on-year. Last year’s report suggested that enterprises considered technology and IT to be two different concepts, with the implication that disruptive trends like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are best evaluated and implemented by teams outside the IT department. Now that the IT department are more likely to be responsible for IT strategy, they are empowering all parts of the business to make their own IT purchases easily and effectively. What was once called “shadow IT”’ – the idea of miniature, disconnected IT departments operated across the whole of the business – has evolved, and the IT department are helping those teams to make the right choices.

The research also finds that less senior members of staff are increasingly likely to be spending IT budget, suggesting that technology vendors and marketers should be carefully considering how to adapt their messaging and media activities.

“Increased dynamism across enterprise IT is forcing a considered evolution of the manner in which IT teams work with the wider business,” says Neil Thorington, managing director of Vanson Bourne. “There has long been a tension between IT and the wider business as each sought to promote its interests. Now, IT departments want to help make sure the whole organisation is innovative and exploring new trends like AI and IoT, but in a way that works for everyone. The relationship is mutually beneficial – IT is becoming a trusted advisor, not the budget holder.”

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