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Businesses are taking IT out of the IT department

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Research from VMware has revealed that 57% of South African business leaders believe the management of technology is shifting away from IT to other departments, as lines of business take charge of technology-led innovation in organisations.

The research, among 2,000 IT decision makers and 2,000 heads of lines of business globally, including 100 in South Africa, finds that this decentralisation of IT is delivering real business benefits: the ability to launch new products and services to market with greater speed (61%), giving the business more freedom to drive innovation (59%) and increasing responsiveness to market conditions (59%). There are also positives from a skills perspective, with the shift in technology ownership beyond IT to the broader business seen to increase employee satisfaction (63%) and help attract better talent (52%).

This move, however, is not without its challenges. Leaders from across the business believe the shift is causing a duplication of spend on IT services (51%), a lack of clear ownership and responsibility for IT (58%) and the purchasing of unsecure solutions (68%). Furthermore, this decentralisation movement is happening against the wishes of IT-teams, the majority of which (58%) want IT to become more centralised. In particular, IT leaders feel that core functions like network security and compliance (50%), private cloud-based services (28%) and storage (24%) should remain in their control.

“It’s ‘transform or die’ for many businesses, with a tumultuous economic environment and a radically evolved competitive landscape upturning the way they operate,” says Matthew Kibby, Regional Director at VMware Sub-Saharan Africa. “Managing this change is the great organisational challenge companies face. The rise of the cloud has democratised IT, with its ease of access and attractive costing models, so it’s no surprise that lines of business have jumped on this opportunity. Too often, however, we’re seeing this trend left unchecked and without adequate IT governance, meaning that organisations across EMEA are driving up costs, compromising security and muddying the waters as to who does what, as they look to evolve.”

The ownership for driving innovation within South African organisations is not disputed among business leaders.  The majority (80%) believe that IT should enable the lines of business to drive innovation, but must set the strategic direction and be accountable for security. This highlights the balance to be struck between the central IT function retaining control while also allowing innovation to foster in other, separate areas of the business.