According to Computer Weekly/TechTarget ‘s* survey IT Priorities 2017, most UK respondents do not plan to increase the IT budget of their enterprises and only 33% think it will increase slightly. Within this framework, budgets will be primarily allocated to cloud services, software and disaster recovery.

The same survey of companies in the Benelux indicates that the IT budget will increase by 28% in total, while most resources are outsourced due to lack of internally available talents.

Besides the typical needs of a company in relation with customers (ERP, CRM…), big data analysis is at the top of the list of new projects for 2017. On the security side, with access being increasingly common through mobile devices, one third of respondents are seriously considering increasing their use and thus security of access points should be reinforced first. Automation is also a subject that comes top of the overall ranking.

The largest slice of the pie will be allocated in 2017 to the cloud, not just for data storage purposes, but also for messaging and accounting applications.

One might almost think that the IT department has become, in a way, the poor relation inside the organization, which is ironic at the age of digital transformation!

Why this evolution which is contrary to the very principle of the utility of IT? How come the Big Data era was not better anticipated, for example, and why did companies take so long to (re)act? One can go so far as to imagine that if the relevant departments had better anticipated the situation, such an urgent need to upgrade information governance might not be necessary today.

Small and medium-sized companies : lack of material and human resources, but also lack of ambition?

If it’s true that every stakeholder at all levels must play the game by accepting innovations for what they are – an opportunity to produce more and better – the corporate culture must invite this natural evolution. Department managers should be the first convinced of the need for optimization of tools and processes, except that in real situations, we’ve all had the experience of a manager who was refractory to change. In such a case, how to inspire the teams to accept with open arms the technological evolution? Inspiration must come from the top of the pyramid if the base is to be solid.

But is a certain immutability of the management solely responsible for the generalized status quo? IT services are not just there to ensure the proper functioning of tools, yet many companies are faced with this established fact. If, in a bygone era, companies could be satisfied with a certain operational efficiency which was long considered sufficient, digital technology has exploded the amount of collected data and therefore the need to develop storage and processing environments has become crucial. If the work in a silo approach could be justified at the beginning, it quickly became evident that a more efficient type of storage would be absolutely useful for processing big data. Still, how many companies still work in 2017 with an archaic environment, coming up with patches when the system threatens to explode?

The other danger of an ill-anticipated digital transformation is that employees more easily take the initiative to find solutions for sharing and communicating, for their own professional needs, without going through the IT department. This way of bypassing the responsible department may prove to be a security risk, but it is a form of initiative and need for efficiency that the IT department is too often not able to provide quickly because of lack of human and/or material resources; but let’s also admit it, sometimes it’s just because of corporate policy or some form of internal attachment to the past.

More than ever, the heads of the IT departments must think of themselves as leaders, not just in their IT field, but in a more global vision of the company. Their role is not only to meet the IT needs of the organization, they must show initiatives to add value to their department, and ultimately to the company.

*Sources : 2017 IT Priorities: Benelux IT leaders least confident of budget increase and IT Priorities 2017: What will IT decision makers be focusing on?