Gartner Symposium: Agility is key to survival

Company chief executives officers are frustrated that their IT infrastructure cannot adapt quickly enough for them to implement...

Company chief executives officers are frustrated that their IT infrastructure cannot adapt quickly enough for them to implement new business ideas or get products to market quickly.

To overcome this problem, IT directors must ensure they have an agile IT architecture, and learn to understand and measure the business impact of IT in their organisations.

That was the core message from Gartner's annual European ITxpo symposium in Cannes this week. The aim for companies, said Gartner, was to become a "real time enterprise".

To make this happen, and gain credibility from the board, IT directors must identify and respond to the three major forces driving intensive business change in the coming years, said Gartner research director Andy Kyte. These drivers are globalisation, virtualisation, and transparency of organisations, he added.

"CEOs want psychic programming," said Kyte. "They want to apply immediately adaptable systems to speed up their 'concept to concrete product' cycle. Many businesses are falling down because they cannot bring their products to market quickly enough," he said.

Kyte said that chief executive officers and chief finance officers found themselves in a global quest for capital. "Their obsession is how to attract and retain capital to drive their organisations forward," he said. That is why IT directors need to demonstrate the business value of their systems effectively through their boards to shareholders.

Another preoccupation of company boards is how to be fluid and dynamic in an increasingly virtual economy, he said. This is driving the growth of trusted third parties and business process outsourcing, where best use is made of other organisations' capital, he maintained.

Kyte said the third major force is the growing demand from shareholders, customers, regulators, service providers and employees for transparency. The competition for capital will demand speedier reporting in many areas, such as company financial reporting or real-time inventory viewing, he added.

"We are now conducting business in a glass house, and that is a problem for business and also for IT," said Kyte. "One example of this is security which used to be about building thicker and higher walls to keep people out. Now it is all about letting people in safely," he said.

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