Top IT Groups Leave Rivals In Dust

High-performing IT organizations are pulling away from their competitors. That?s the takeaway from Mind the Gap: Insights from Accenture?s Third Global IT Performance research study, in which CIOs and other senior IT executives at more than 225 of the world?s largest private and public organizations were interviewed. Since 2008, when the previous high-performance IT study was done, the gap between high-performers and the rest grew from 31 to 42 percent in terms of innovation, and from 30 to 37 percent in the area of execution.
Why the widening chasm? Chalk much of it up to the troubled economy. While most organizations focused on cutting budgets and maintenance, the high-performers saw it as an opportunity to grow their IT capabilities. 

Research also showed that high-performers:

?    have Web-enabled 42 percent more of their customer interactions and 93 percent more of those involving suppliers;
?    are 44 percent more likely to recognize the strategic role IT plays in customer satisfaction;
?    are eight times more likely to consistently measure the benefits realized from strategic IT initiatives;
?    spend 29 percent more annually on developing and implementing new applications instead of maintaining existing ones; and
?    are twice as likely to prioritize workforce performance.

The differences are striking in the following key areas:

1.    Strategic IT Alignment: CIOs at high-performing organizations are three times as likely to deliver on core business objectives in terms of new products and services, and they?re twice as likely to cite IT?s strategic role in improving employee productivity. 
2.    IT Governance: High-performing groups are twice as likely to develop a business case for new IT initiatives and eight times as likely to measure the benefits realized from these projects.
3.    Application Architecture: IT leaders score far higher when emphasizing the importance of a target application architecture focused on such key objectives as scheduling and implementing regular refreshes of the application architecture; proactively applying architecture principles in initiatives; and understanding the importance of avoiding duplication in their application portfolios.
4.    Information Management: High-performers are twice as likely to develop target data architectures and effective business intelligence and analytics capabilities, as well as data governance. This allows employees to do their jobs better by giving them access to the most detailed and real-time information available.
5.    Service Management and Operations: Being much further along in their journey toward a centralized, fully virtualized environment, high-performers find themselves in a far better position to migrate enterprise infrastructure and applications to private or public clouds.
6.    Solution Delivery: High-performing organizations are six times more likely to provide real-time visibility into processes and four times more likely to provide real-time dashboards and alert systems.
7.    Workforce and Resource Management: High-performers are more than seven times more likely to be invested in new technology skills development; six times more likely to have a plan in place to address an aging workforce and the loss of institutional knowledge as people retire; and three times more likely to develop new career tracks to train future IT workers.
8.    Information and Technology Security: High-performing organizations are more likely to have a chief security officer in place; three times as likely to coordinate security governance with lines of business; and twice as likely to have an overall security strategy.
9.    Outsourcing: High-performers strategically use outsourcing to gain access to critical IT skills, enhance their agility and flexibility, make their business processes more effective, and lower their applications and infrastructure TCO. They approach outsourcing as a partnership with their service providers, which allows them to extract more value from the relationship.

The study shows that improving an organization?s IT value and gaining a competitive advantage while improving IT?s economy are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they work hand in hand. This is particularly important during a time when the emphasis continues to be on reducing costs.  

IT leaders have a choice: They can accept a role as keepers of the status quo for the business, or they can take steps to establish a partnership with the business by improving their IT organization?s agility, innovation and execution. Research shows that their approach will go a long way toward determining whether they will end up in the camp of the haves or the have-nots.

Gavin Michael is managing director of R&D and alliances at Accenture.