Channel will have to wait for IT buyers to adapt

The traditional IT department is struggling to move itself into a more strategic position according to Claranet

The channel is all too aware of the growth in shadow IT as it moves to forge relationships with some of the new wave of buyers.

But if they are hoping that the traditional contacts in the IT department will wrestle back control of the strategy and the budgets then they might be waiting a while.

Shadow IT spending has emerged as a result of cloud services being relatively easy to acquire but also because there is a sense of frustration with the IT department.

Those that have traditionally looked after the technology are perceived as being blocks to progress and slow to react to the changing demands of the business.

According to pan-European research from Claranet the primary functions of the IT department are to provide data security and to support staff technology demanda as well as looking for ways to cut costs.

Only 16% of those IT decision makers quizzed across Europe felt that the IT department had a role making the business more competitive.

This view from the ground jars slightly with the views of Gartner, which has spoken about the next era of enterprise technology where digitalisation has put the IT department in the driving seat identifying where innovation can deliver growth and outpace the competition.

The experience of those currently trying to identify where pockets of IT budget reside is that the shadow IT buying pattern is a reality and the IT department are becoming embattled and increasing isolated as users tend to work around them instead of with their assistance.

Claranet’s UK Managing Director, Michel Robert, said that the IT department played a crucial role in helping the business and it still held an important position in a business.

“Increasingly, business success rests on the IT department’s ability to develop applications and IT systems that deliver ROI by being agile and flexible enough to support new ways of doing business. But it’s clear from the research that the average IT department is still more likely to be seen as a cost centre rather than as an enabler of business transformation and differentiation," he said.

The Claranet research found that things would change over the next five years but for many firms the world as described by Gartner is some way off.

The answer for many customers is to form a different relationship with the channel, from one of purchasing technology and services to a partnership where they push out some applications to be managed by a reseller.

“The role of IT services providers in facilitating the shift from keeping the lights on to business enablement cannot be understated. In today’s economic climate, it makes absolute sense for existing IT staff to focus on higher value strategic work, while transferring the day-to-day management of IT infrastructure to a trusted partner who can provide higher levels of service through economies of scale and skill and deliver cost reductions as a result.” said Robert.

In addition to the channel playing a crucial role there has also been a reaction from the vendor community to the growth in shadow IT with steps being taken to try to enable some flexibility for employees without compromising enterprise security.

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