Initially unveiled back in May at its Edge conference, IBM is releasing its Institute for Business Value Study that shows there is a huge gap between what IT infrastructure is required to meet the growing demands of cloud, analytics, mobile, social computing and security (what Big Blue is calling CAMS; last year they called it SoMoClo – social-mobile-cloud), and what is available. “Companies recognize that infrastructure enables competitive advantage,” said Jacqueline Woods, Global Vice President for Growth Solutions, STG, IBM, who helped author the findings paper, but the results would seem to indicate that recognition is somewhat suspect.
Based on responses from 750 CTOs, CIOs and other technology executives in 18 countries and 19 industries, the The IT Infrastructure Conversation: New Content, New Participants, New Tone appears to send a mixed message, at best:
-70% of organizations recognize IT infrastructure plays an important role in enabling competitive advantage or optimizing revenue and profit;
-organizations with leading IT infrastructure practices are more likely to deliver superior financial results, including greater revenue growth and profitability than industry peers;
-less than 10% report that their IT infrastructure is fully prepared to meet the demands of mobile technology, social media, big data and cloud computing;
-less than 33% of IT executives believe they are effectively collaborating with the business to provide IT infrastructure solutions;
-nearly 40% of IT executives identify creating new revenue streams as the top opportunity for improving return on investment from IT infrastructure; and,
-over 60% of organizations plan to increase their IT infrastructure investment over the next 12-18 months
People understand there is a need for them to invest in infrastructure, said Woods. “Infrastructure is the thing that stabilizes everything that sits on top of it,” and if you’re not thinking like that, “you’re falling behind.”
Earlier this year at Pulse, another IBM conference, Tom Rosamilia, SVP, IBM Systems & Technology Group, said the initial survey results indicate a huge gap between demand and supply, during the press conference about the announcements. He said 70% believe in the importance of CAMS but less than 10% are ready for it.
At IBM Pulse, the May conference immediately following Edge, Rob Enderle, Principal Analyst, Enderle Group, said IBM now has products in each of the CAMS areas compromising a solution, including a large cloud service. “To get to this point IBM has been undergoing one of the most massive structure and organizational changes in its entire life but the benefits, according to the cases they are presenting, indicate these changes are starting to pay big dividends.”
Mark Peters, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group, said it seems clear that the neat virtuous circle that existed for decades between IT supply abilities and the capabilities demanded of it has been/is being broken by CAMS. “In other words IT was – generally – in balance, but now it is not. This is why there’s so much talk of ‘next generation IT’ or the like….something has to give/change; and it sure as heck isn’t going to be user expectations and needs! IBM’s focus is therefore both logical and encouraging as its overall systems capabilities have the potential to support CAMS better and faster than many other vendors.”
Peters added that an ESG study, its 2014 Spending Intentions Survey, found only 7% of IT respondents rated their IT group as a competitive differentiator for their organization. “Both pieces of research suggest IT has a long way to go to [re]achieve full contemporary business relevance.”
Woods said she started her career off in telecommunications, and people just wanted the phone to work. “Infrastructure is the same.”
If you don’t feel you’re prepared, then you need to assess where you want to go, where you are, and how to bridge the two to put yourself in the better competitive position, she said. “Optimization and efficiency and agility… I believe you can’t have that conversation without having a conversation about the cloud…”
In many ways IT today is built like a living, breathing organism, said Woods. But it is built on an infrastructure – software, systems – that underpin everything. So infrastructure matters, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.