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Marrying IT and business The top challenges for your team

Businesses face a number of challenges when attempting to grow ICT. Take a look at how this can impact IT teams.

Businesses face a number of challenges when attempting to grow ICT. Take a look at how this can impact IT teams.

From an increasingly complex IT environment to budget constraints and skill shortages, IT leaders have spoken out on the barriers their companies face in leveraging ICT to drive the business forward.

We take a look at some of these challenges.

Managing complexity

According to a March 2016 IDC report, which was produced in collaboration with Canon, 18 per cent of IT heads believe the growing complexity of IT and its varied user requirements is one of the top challenges in using ICT to drive the business forward.

From cloud computing and security to big data, e-commerce and social media, IT teams are being asked to deliver across a range of technologies. Companies that invest in vital new technologies and manage them well are more profitable than their industry peers, according to a 2013 MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting study.

But the types of technologies a company focuses on should be determined by its long-term strategy rather than the latest tech trend.

So how can IT leaders help steer their companies’ technology roadmaps on a path to success?

IT teams should endeavour to work more collaboratively with CEOs and COOs on the company’s business strategy to identify technologies that will contribute to organisational goals.

While greater business unit cooperation is the way forward, this has traditionally not always been the case for IT teams. In fact, the IDC report found nearly half (46 per cent) of COOs collaborate with the IT department in a reactive way, whereas just 30 per cent have a proactive approach, with business outcomes as the leading driver.

Without clear lines of communication between IT heads and other organisational leaders, deciding on which new technologies to invest in for the business will be an ongoing challenge for IT teams.

Budget blues

Even once technology solutions are prioritised, IT teams must navigate the challenge of budget constraints on their departments.

Company budgets that focus mainly on business-as-usual (BAU) activities can leave little room for innovation.

Deloitte found in its CIO Survey 2014 report that the majority (55 per cent) of IT budgets are allocated to BAU operations, while 46 per cent of CIOs reserve less than 10 per cent of their IT budgets for innovation.

Of those surveyed in the IDC report, 16 per cent of IT leaders singled out a lack of budget to help IT drive the business forward.

Budget constraints not only block the ability to invest in new technology and innovation but have a wider impact on the retention of key employees. Talent may move on from organisations if they are not provided with the tools to innovate and opportunity to experiment with new technologies.

In addition, hiring freezes can cause burnout among existing staff when resources are thin on the ground and employees are asked to do more with less.

Searching for skills

A lack of required skill sets to effectively execute ICT is affecting IT teams, with 13 per cent of IT leaders naming it in the IDC survey as a key challenge in driving ICT forward.

A 2015 Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) report found that despite ICT roles being among the fastest-growing Australian occupations, companies are finding it difficult to recruit staff with technology skills.

Ai Group has called for a national science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills strategy to lift the level of STEM and ICT-qualified employees in the workforce.

Lacking the basics

The IDC report also found that 13 per cent of CIOs cite a lack of thought leadership in ICT strategy and roadmaps in their organisations, with 12 per cent stating there’s a lack of understanding of new technologies among business executives.

Further, 10 per cent claimed there are governance and regulation limitations, with 9 per cent citing a lack of governance and architecture frameworks.

What is also concerning is that 7 per cent, albeit a small percentage, said there is a lack of business unit support from the CEO when it comes to pushing ICT in their organisations.

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