Business units’ relationship with IT on thin ice: Avanade

Tensions between marketing and IT departments may be wearing thin these days because marketers are feeling confident about making their own decisions when it comes to what technology they need – then turning around and telling IT to fix all the problems with it, according to a new study.

Technology services firm Avanade says that some business relationships are fraying as technology budgets move outside of the IT department, cutting them out of the opportunity to give input on decisions. The findings of a February survey commissioned by Avanade 1,003 C-level executives, business unit leaders, and IT decision leaders are being released today. It shows 37 per cent of the technology spending at companies is now controlled by departments outside of IT. Also, 71 per cent of C-level executives and business unit leaders say they are confident enough to make decisions better and faster without involving IT.

“A lot of line of business executives feel that IT doesn’t even really know what’s out there in the marketplace,” says Dean Olmstead, corporate vice-president and Canadian general manager at Avanade. “IT is used to running the existing business, yet line of business execs need new and changing applications.”

While business units like marketing move to cloud software and access it as a subscription service, the IT department spends 36 per cent of its time managing and maintaing legacy systems. That isn’t about to change with 67 per cent of executives reporting that IT will spend the same amount of time or more on maintaining those systems for 2014. Only one in four executives say that IT staff regularly suggest new technology solutions on their own.

Results of the February 2014 Avanade survey. Click for a larger image.
Results of the February 2014 Avanade survey. Click for a larger image.

The Avanade study reinforces the oft-cited prediction by analyst firm Gartner Inc. that the chief marketing officer (CMO) will control more of the technology budget than the CIO by 2017. As business unit leaders opt for turn-key solutions that can be accessed with little more than a web browser, IT is often being cut out of the process entirely.

“That’s some of the tension,” Olmstead says. “But once the decision is made, they are comfortable with IT helping to implement it.”

The IT department is shifting in its role, he adds. Rather than run large development projects to create the applications needed by business departments, it can act as a service broker to make sure technology is integrated properly and the security bases are covered. Already, 35 per cent of companies described their IT departments as service brokers, Avanade says. Nearly six out of 10 of those firms say that role will be expanding over the next 12 months.

Marketers would be remiss to not consider technology integration issues, Olmstead says, even when it comes to cloud services.

“How does impact a single view of the customer?” he says. “As you bolt on applications quickly, you might lose that.”

Out of the 1,003 participants in 19 countries, there were 100 Canadian participants in the survey, according to Avanade.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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