A recent survey by the Hackett Group (requires registration to access PDF) found that reducing complexity in IT was one of the most important goals for IT pros. The results were published in a report called The CIO Agenda: IT’s Top Issues in 2012.
The survey was conducted in late 2011 by Hackett Group and they questioned a number of different professionals in Global 1000 companies including finance, HR, IT, procurement and supply chain.
When asked which priorities were highest for the company, respondents chose reducing complexity as the number 2 goal. Only aligning business and IT goals came in higher. Unfortunately, the report does not spell out percentages here, but only shows graphically which priorities were most popular.
As the report pointed out, this is nothing new. These priorities have been cited for years, but the report writers felt that they had a renewed sense of urgency around these goals especially, according to the report, “in the context of the broad-based strategic reorientation taking place at companies.”
One other data point is worth mentioning as well, when asked about IT priorities, the most popular answer was Unlocking the full potential of existing technology investment.
Both of these answers point to a big problem in IT. First of all, companies have thrown tons of money at business issues hoping to solve them with technology, yet have failed to fulfill the promise of that technology, and that these solutions tend to be overly complex, which could be why IT is having trouble unlocking that full potential.
While the survey didn’t get into how the respondents hope to solve these problems, one way to reduce complexity in the data center is to outsource non-essential functions to cloud vendors. Cloud solutions tend to be less complex than on-premise ones and provide enough functionality for most organizations and employees to achieve what they need.
The more enterprise software you can move out of the data center, the more likely you are to reduce your overall complexity for a number of reasons. You don’t have to worry about installing, configuring, maintaining and updating the software because that falls on the vendor.
In many cases, cloud software is less complex because it’s not trying to do everything possible, just a few key functions that work for most users. In these cases, when cloud software works at its best, it also makes it easier for end users because of the fact it’s less complex.
Of course, as with any alternative, it also raises a host of issues for IT over control, backup, governance and other factors that you can’t easily dismiss, but it does at least solve some of the major problems that respondents were addressing.
As we’ve discussed here before, there is no perfect solution to any problem you face in IT, and you will find there are pros and cons to any approach. You need to decide, however, if moving some of your operations to the cloud will reduce some of the stress you’re feeling in the data center and let you concentrate more on getting your department functions in line with business goals and requirements, the most entrenched problem according to the survey.