Line-of-business types get involved in IT infrastructure: is this a good thing?

Survey by the IBM Institute for Business Value finds impressive payoffs from IT-LOB collaboration.

Should finance and purchasing managers get more intimately involved in planning and specifying IT infrastructure? A recent study suggests this can deliver a lot of advantages to the business.

Photo: HubSpot

That's the finding of a new survey of 750 IT executives, conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value, in conjunction with Oxford Economics. The report's authors, Nate Dyer, Pamela Hurwitch, Eric Lesser and Jacqueline Woods, observe that line-of-business managers are increasingly getting involved in IT infrastructure discussions.

Forty percent of companies in the study indicate that non-IT people will be involved in making infrastructure decisions in areas such as end-user devices, security and cloud computing. However, fewer than one-third of IT executives say they are effectively collaborating with line-of-business leaders to provide IT infrastructure solutions to support their businesses.

Organizations that encourage collaborative IT planning  are more likely to outperform their peers across several business outcomes, the study suggests. These organizations exhibit  greater preparedness in the areas of cloud (52 versus 10 percent of their IT-siloed counterparts), mobility (50 versus 34 percent), social and collaborative tools (36 versus 28 percent), and analytics and big data (44 versus 39 percent).

There;s plenty of work to be done. Fewer than 10% of companies report that their IT infrastructure is fully prepared to meet the demands of mobile technology, social media, big data and cloud computing.

In organizations where such collaborative planning takes place, there is a greater emphasis on developing strategies to address the entirety of their IT infrastructure and measuring the performance of their operations. They are also supporting cross-functional teams that work across traditional infrastructure silos.

"Our recent survey identified a small group of forward-thinking IT leaders," Dyer, Hurwitch, Lesser and Woods write. "Working to tackle next-generation IT infrastructure challenges, these organizations are leading the right conversations in their companies, elevating the importance of IT infrastructure, making the right investments for the future and, perhaps most important, collaborating and serving as advisors across the business."

This is creating new roles for IT managers and professionals as well -- from caretakers of code and systems to advisory roles to their businesses. They help identify and manage business technology resources -- whether they come from their own data centers, or from an outside provider.

"The participants in IT conversations are also changing," the authors add. "No longer is the discussion solely among IT architects and data center leaders. More and more, the business is taking a closer look at IT infrastructure — and whether it is able to keep up with a continuously changing and increasingly complex business environment."