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Three Priorities for 2016

Speed up the way you respond to business partners' requests and get your cybersecurity basics right

Growing Revenue Prioritization Growth Nurture Businessman Dollar TreeThe past 15 years have seen everyone become far more comfortable with digital technology. Across industries, digitization has changed, and is changing, the way business is done.

Companies’ IT functions have always faced change, but as digitization becomes faster and broader-based across the enterprise, it presents CIOs and their teams with opportunities to help line managers, and so the overall company.

In fact, more than three-quarters of line managers agree that fast access to new technology capabilities is a vital part of helping them launch new products, enter new markets, and respond to changing demand at the pace customers demand and competitors worry about. The problem is that almost as many business leaders believe their IT teams are too slow, leaving IT teams trying hard to speed up their processes without running unacceptable risks.

This need to speed up IT and manage the expectations and demands of increasingly tech-savvy line managers is one of the main trends that CEB’s research shows will shape global business in 2016. Business leaders and CIOs worry that if they make faster decisions, they also need to be ready to make fewer “right” decisions. There are three areas in particular where they can be both fast and right.

Three Steps

  1. Respond more quickly to changing technology: Standardized IT systems can no longer keep pace with the services executives say they need to stay ahead of competitors. The emergence of cloud computing, analytics, big data, and mobile technology has put pressure on businesses to radically rethink the way they manage IT.

    One way to deal with this growing complexity is through “adaptive IT” that helps IT teams rapidly reallocate resources as new opportunities emerge, switch between a range of models for developing technology, and become more flexible in how they engage with other stakeholders. Taking an adaptive approach will help IT teams switch between a faster and a slower pace of work, depending on the needs of their current project. CEB research suggests that 6% of organisations have made the transition, while some 29% are taking active steps towards it.

  2. Prioritize “speed to market”: Traditional IT infrastructure planning focuses on long-term investments that run counter to business pressure for faster speed to market and smaller-scale, short-lifecycle solutions. Technology plans today rarely include firm commitments past a 12-to-18 month time horizon. The main issue is that business leaders are unsure of how to adapt infrastructure to a new faster world without compromising service cost and quality.

    To accelerate speed to market, IT functions should make changes to infrastructure service models, technology roadmaps, and business case development. Companies that do this can meet these short-cycle demands and improve speed of delivery by as much as 10 times, at a lower cost to serve.

  3. Rethink cybersecurity models: Over 95% of chief information security officers (CISOs) say it is at least “moderately likely” that their company will face what they call an “advanced attack” in the next 12 months and, worse, nearly three-quarters of CISOs think their function won’t deal with it properly.

    In response, many IT teams invest in “advanced capabilities,” which allows IT to answer senior executives that want proof they have “done something.” However, the evidence is clear that today’s security investments are not working. And tools are next to useless if information security teams haven’t already done the basics: put the right controls in place and hired staff with the right skills. Most firms haven’t yet done this; for example, over 99% of information security breaches exploit a vulnerability that has been known for more than one year but that the company was still unable to patch.

    Over 50% of CISOs said that investing in hygiene measures provides the biggest return on investment in defenses against new and unknown threats. Having exceptional hygiene not only improves IT’s ability to block attacks but also provides better visibility of attacks on the firm.

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