Sunday, 19th September 2021

Significant disconnect between IT and the wider organisation exposed by the pandemic

A longstanding disconnect between IT teams and the wider organisation means that EMEA public services organisations are both failing to adopt new technologies and potentially putting their long-term response to the pandemic in jeopardy, research from Insight has revealed. 71% of such organisations treat IT as a utility rather than a business enabler, and only a quarter (26%) give IT a seat on the board – despite IT’s importance for delivering organisations’ strategic objectives.

IT’s efforts have still produced returns during the pandemic – for instance, 52% of organisations invested in projects to create short-term cost savings. However, it could do more: 62% of public services organisations fail to take advantage of new technologies because they aren’t listening to IT. This disconnect has become especially pronounced during the pandemic. While 85% of senior IT decision makers believe ways of working have been permanently transformed, at least 63% of organisations are reluctant to invest in projects that could improve the employee experience or optimise the business because the wider organisation believes things will eventually return to a pre-COVID-19 “normal”.

Addressing this disconnect would provide real benefits to public services organisations, allowing them to target investment in projects the whole organisation believes in; manage change across the organisation more easily; better understand the impact of new ways of working on employees; and ensure strategies are based on the correct assumptions. Ultimately, it will help avoid wasted investments, failed projects and demoralised employees, with IT acting as the natural conduit to help businesses evolve and improve.

“IT cannot continue to operate at arm’s length from the board: it must be given a seat at the top table,” said Emma de Sousa, President, Insight EMEA. “The way IT is perceived and used within public services organisations has to fundamentally change. It must be put front and centre, driving organisational change, ensuring good governance, and being made directly accountable for doing so. Giving IT a voice on the board to drive strategy; letting IT use that voice to support innovation; consulting IT on what approaches will best meet organisational objectives; and trusting IT to perform against strategic KPIs, will position organisations to face the challenges of 2021 and beyond.”

Other findings from the research included:

IT teams aren’t measured against their strategic impact: 61% of IT departments in public services organisations aren’t measured against business KPIs, yet 87% are engaged to support business projects and 81% have the freedom to invest in the skills they need. Measuring IT against its strategic impact could show the value of this engagement and freedom.

More investment needed to address skills gaps: 58% of organisations need to invest more in the skills and technology needed to optimise the organisation, and the same percentage need to invest more in the skills and technology needed to support a remote workforce.

Projects put at risk by IT and business disconnect: 53% of organisations are working on projects to optimise the organisation, and 66% on projects designed to improve the employee experience. Yet with the majority of organisations believing that things will return to “normal”, there is a risk that projects will fail because they don’t have the organisations’ full support.

Failure to engage IT brings additional costs: Public services organisations spent an average of £4m / €4.4m from 2018-2020 on projects that either did not provide the full benefits, or failed. The disconnect between IT and the wider business, and the failure to listen to and engage with IT, almost certainly contributed to this.

“Public services organisations have transformed the way they operate in the last 12 months. Changing citizen needs and a drive for cost reduction mean these changes and more need to be made permanent. IT will be critical in delivering these new operating models for public services delivery, but first the way it is perceived has to change,” continued Emma de Sousa. “Closing the gap between IT and the wider organisation must be an urgent priority. This will not only help to de-risk new investments in digital services but also ensure that digital transformation initiatives meet wider organisational goals.”

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