16 long-held IT business practices you need to kill

Gartner Symposium outlines how IT can look for new ways to handle the explosion of information, collaboration, and mobility

With CIO budgets heading for their 11th consecutive year of growing at 3 percent or less, it's time to offer up some sacred cows for sacrifice.

That was the sentiment at a Gartner Symposium/ITxpo session today that outlined a number of ways IT can get out of its comfort zone and look for new ways to handle the explosion of information, collaboration, and mobility.

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"IT needs to free up time money and resources to get into this brave new world," said Ken McGee, vice president and research analyst at Gartner.

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McGee offered 16 IT business practices that need to be killed. "You may not need all 16 but maybe one would get you pointed in the right direction," he said.

The short list of targeted items includes:

1. Stop recommending mega projects

2. Eliminate differences between CIO/CEO projects

3. Terminate projects that do not improve the income statement

4. Abandon CIO priorities that don't support CEO priorities

5. Stop recommending mega projects

6. Terminate existing apps that do not yield measurable business value

7. End the practice of putting the enterprise IT spending within the CIO budget

8. Abolish environment of little or no IT spending accountability

9. Eliminate IT caused business model disruption surprises

10. Kill cloud-a-phobia

11. Abandon level 1, 2, 3 tech support

12. Kill chargeback systems

13. Stop issuing competitive bids

14. Stop holding onto unfunded projects. Stop IT hoarders

15. End discrimination against behavioral skills around social sciences

16. End unbalanced support between back and front office

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McGee went on to expand on the list with a number of facts and suggestions from Gartner research including:


• Decommission 10 percent of applications by year-end 2012 and 20 percent by year-end 2014. Reducing operating expenses via decommissioning existing but unsponsored applications will be the richest source of new project funding during the next few years.

• Identify three applications to migrate to cloud services. Services with higher competitive value, such as core corporate processes and transactional services, will take longer to reach the cloud and the mainstream. The reason for a longer uptake into the cloud for pointed business-oriented services is that these will require a high degree of trust between the providers of these services and their potential business customers. These services will also require a certain degree of security and robustness that is just now becoming viable for Internet-based computing, McGee said.

• Impose a three-year moratorium on all IT-proposed projects exceeding $500,000 and/or requiring more than one year to implement.

IT's operations:

• Revamp tech support. McGee said oversized tech support groups are like carbon monoxide, odorless, colorless but can kill. Unless abandoned, Tier 1, 2, and 3 tech support structures will continue undermining the success of delivering "new projects" by perpetually interrupting developers to solve outages occurring in already deployed systems. Once a product has been built by the "factory," an entirely separate group of people become responsible for maintenance without interrupting those in the "factory" working on building new products.

• Stop issuing chargeback reports where IT equals less than 5 percent of revenue. Without IT being a much larger component of all expenses and/or IT bills being applied to the profit analysis of an enterprise's business units, products or services, why continue chargeback systems.

• End issuing most competitive bids. When users of communication services, outsourcing or other major IT hardware, software or services want to reduce the operating cost of an incumbent provider, they will often issue informal or formal requests for proposals as a means to "show the vendor" they are serious about cutting costs. However, in reality, it is extremely rare for a user to actually leave an incumbent provider. The user knows this, the incumbent vendors know this, and the "potential" vendors know this, so why continue a game that no one takes seriously?

• Spend more than 50 percent of 2011 training budget on acquiring new social science skills. We believe there will be a new need for tomorrow's application developers to possess social-science-oriented knowledge that will help understand the wants and especially changes in needs of human beings. Cognitive psychology, sociology, anthropology sentiment analysis, and other disciplines will be applied to identify the opportunities of the future.

CEO/CIO issues:

• Reject annual mismatch between CEO priorities and IT's most funded projects. Sometimes, it is very difficult to conclude that the most funded IT projects are the best IT solution to resolve the most important business issues, McGee said.

• Recommend IT mission changes in response to "income statement" test findings on all 2011 projects. CIOs should obtain agreement from senior executives to confine involvement in new projects that will measurably increase revenue and cut costs at levels sufficient to be noticeable on an income statement. Being relieved of the need to focus on nice-to-have-related projects, rather than got-to-have projects, will liberate time, money and resources to work on projects that matter to shareholders.

• Compare CEO and CIO priorities, explain disparities and/or provide a reconciliation plan. Undoubtedly, the quests of the CIOs' responses above are business worthy, but with CEO surveys constantly conveying a nearly single-minded desire of wanting revenue growth for their enterprises, the disparities between the two lists warrant a comparison analysis before the year continues. Gartner urges CIOs to draw on public documents regulatory filings, speeches and other nonproprietary sources to: compare CEO priorities with CIO priorities; explain disparities and provide a reconciliation plan, Gartner says.

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