Take more risks, Gartner urges

Gartner IT expo: IT's accountability to the business is top of the agenda

Gartner IT expo: IT's accountability to the business is top of the agenda

Sam Hinds

The big theme at last week's Gartner ITexpo conference in Cannes was making IT accountable to the business. And Helen Mumford, the newly-appointed European general manager at Gartner, advised IT directors and chief information officers to take risks.

The IT department has traditionally been responsible for looking after the back-office, core business systems where risk-taking is generally off-limits.

But Mumford argued that the business needs a more radical approach to IT than IT directors are accustomed to.

For example, at Gartner ITexpo there was much discussion of how many large organisations' ITdepartments are being sidestepped when it comes to important projects such as the Web.

Gartner analysts said it is here, with technology areas such as the Web and mobile Internet that IT directors can add the most value.

Peter Sondergaard, head of research at Gartner, advised IT directors to outsource everything but core business IT.

Gartner analyst Roger Woolfe said the modern IT organisation needs to rebalance its activities by using smart demarcation in order to harbour core business competencies within IT.

In this scenario, he said, "process work and any IT involved in supporting the business should be run by an external provider".

IT directors, he added, also need to consider what processes to outsource, and which ones to embed within functions of the business.

In this situation IT staff require a number of skills. Woolfe explained how some staff would be involved in contract negotiations and managing suppliers.

And some would be involved in cutting-edge research and development using rapid application development to prototype new systems.

There will be those staff who look at enhancing the business - effectively business analysts, those that have the know-how to hold together complex enterprise application integration projects and at the top there is IT leadership.

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