In January, ISACA published the latest findings from its research arm, the IT Governance Institute, “Global Status Report on the Governance of Enterprise IT (GEIT)”. The report consolidates the opinions, concerns and experiences of 834 executives from 21 countries.
The pervasive nature of IT has been recognised by 94% of the respondents considering IT important to the delivery of the overall business strategy and vision. Unfortunately, there is still a considerable gap between the recognition of a need for action and the realisation of well-defined governance measures and processes being in place and in use.
This may reflect the procrastination that often manifests itself in human nature between needing to act and actually getting on with it. Alternatively, this may indicate a recognition that sound governance activities need a firm foundation. They also have to begin with changing how people look at things before being able to change the way things get done. A significant bedding-in period may also be required before new activities become “the way we do things”. Having worked with a number of organisations in recent years, this can take three to five years within an organisation of any size.
The main driver for GEIT activities is recognised as, ensuring that current IT functionality is aligned with current business needs. This reinforces the continuing relevance and importance of strategic alignment, and the organisational mechanisms to develop, maintain and strengthen it. Managing costs, understandably in the present economic climate, was chosen as the second most important driver out of six.
A word of caution is appropriate here. There are always challenges with any significant change initiative and changes to the governance of IT are no exception. Of the eight main challenges identified, communication, change management itself and trying to do too much at once are seen as the most significant. Of these, trying to do too much at once is probably the one I encounter most often when reviewing and assisting organisations with their initiatives to improve their governance of enterprise IT.
Looking to the immediate future, it will come as no surprise to find the top three major IT-related related initiatives planned for the next 12 months are major IT system implementation or upgrades, IT cost reduction initiatives and data or information initiatives. A reminder once again - there is always a significant level of change in the pipeline as organisations battle with delivering top class services today, while at the same time preparing for a more challenging future ahead.
IT has never been short of new and emerging technologies, nor areas of immediate concern. Topics of special interest in the survey included the current hot issues of cloud computing, outsourcing and the use of social networking.
Looking at outsourcing, 73% of respondents have fully outsourced some of their IT activities, with end-user support and IT help desk being the primary activities currently outsourced. These are followed by infrastructure maintenance, infrastructure provisioning and application development and/or maintenance. One can make an argument that this reflects the depth of the marketplace and a growing maturity in the provision of outsourcing services, the management of outsourcing relationships and assurance activities within organisations.
Moving on to cloud computing, we see things progressing at quite a pace. More than 60% of companies the currently outsource are planning to use cloud computing for non-mission critical IT systems and more than 40% for mission-critical systems. The overall figure is somewhat different - 57.5 % of the respondents are not planning to use cloud computing for mission-critical IT services, nor 40% for non-mission critical systems. The main reasons for not using the cloud idata privacy concerns, security concerns and reliability concerns.
Turning our attention to the use of social networking by employees, 19% believe the benefits of employees using social networking outweigh the risks, 34% believe the benefits and risks are appropriately balanced, and 41% believe the risks outweigh the benefits. Time alone will tell to what extent these are issues with the technology itself, employees, managing collaborative relationships across the supply chain, or the organisation’s data management or underlying infrastructure.
The ITGI is the not-for-profit research affiliate of ISACA and the report is available for free download from www.isaca.org/ITGI-Global-Survey-Results