A significant shift from IT infrastructure to customer-facing systems will be crucial if IT investment is to have a measurable business benefit, Gartner Group has warned.
With IT having an increasingly important role in business, IT leaders will need to take a more prominent role in the business to avoid being sidelined.
Peter Sondergaard, head of research for Gartner Europe, said, "CIOs need to reduce the amount of back-office activities down to less than seven main processes. Everything else should be outsourced."
According to Sondergaard, in this type of outsourcing relationship there is a far closer link to the business than with traditional outsourcers. Gartner describes such contracts as partnersource. The business partner works very closely with the business outsourcing its non-core IT.
The situation, according to Gartner, is similar to how staff on an outsourced call centre answer with the name of the company the caller is trying to contact. Technology out of a box gives no business advantage.
"All businesses have to focus on customer-centric processes," Sondergaard added. "The CIO needs to move from back-office IT to front-office systems and deal with business focus because IT is central to business models and revenue generation within organisations."
In the back office, Sondergaard said the integration of applications will become crucial for giving businesses a competitive advantage.
This is where Gartner believes CIOs should focus their resources, providing a core group of people capable of integrating IT systems.
This was first published in November 2000