Given that enterprise IT regularly underreports cloud application adoption by 10x, it’s easy
to come to the conclusion that the CIO is irrelevant. This is a mistake. While
it’s clear that open source and cloud computing have enabled a new generation
of developers to get stuff done without involving Purchasing or Legal, it’s
less clear that developers and the lines of business they serve are completely
In fact, according to new Forrester
research, business and IT are doing less in isolation and more in partnership.
Overstating shadow IT?
First open source and now cloud computing have freed lines of
business from having to depend on IT to deliver new business functionality.
While newly hyped, the trend isn’t new: back in 2012, a PricewaterhouseCoopers’
Digital IQ Survey found that among 100 of the companies PwC then ranked as
“top performers,” IT controlled less than 50% of corporate technology
It’s also not really an “us vs. them” situation. According to a
Frost & Sullivan report, 83% of IT workers
admit to using non-approved SaaS apps, compared to 81% of line-of-business
workers. Actually, it’s worse than this. According to the same report, 26% of
IT departments use six or more non-approved SaaS apps; just 7% of business units
use that many.
Clearly, it’s full steam ahead on the shadow IT train, with IT
leading the way toward freedom from its own cumbersome policies. Unfortunately, such freedom comes at a cost. Rogue open-source
or SaaS applications can increase security risks while also potentially running
afoul of regulatory requirements. Additionally, there’s a reason IT exists in
the first place: it turns out that an “every developer for herself” mentality
can significantly complicate ongoing maintenance of enterprise code.
Joined at the hip
The world isn’t about to end, however. Yes, Forrester reveals
in its “Understanding Shifting Technology Acquisition Patterns”
research note that lines of business are taking on a greater role in technology
purchasing, removing IT from the purchasing process in 6.3% of new technology
purchases in 2013, rising to 7.2% in 2015, while IT-only purchases will fall
from 23.7% (2013) to 21.6% (2015).
But this obscures the far more important trend: a steady
partnership between business and IT in technology purchasing, maintaining a
steady 35.4% (2013) to 35.8% (2015), even as the cloud booms and open source
continues to rise in importance.
Yes, we’re absolutely seeing lines of business take on greater
responsibility for technology purchases: technology purchases where the line of
business initiates the purchase and then includes IT is projected to rise from
9.0% (2013) to 10.4% (2015), up from 8.0% in 2009.
But no, this doesn’t translate into the imminent demise of IT.
Instead, we’re far more likely to see increased partnership between the two
groups, even if the line of business shoulders an increased burden for
initiating technology purchases.
As such, the successful CIO will be the one who helps the line of business manage the purchases
they’re inclined to make. Rather than set up roadblocks, it seems better for
CIOs to stand ready to take the load off the business once an initial direction
is set, including negotiating pricing and rationalizing the new applications
with existing infrastructure (and security policies).
In this way, the CIO can harness the creativity of lines of
business and their developers, rather than try to control them.