DevOps in the Enterprise

The role of IT in DevOps

What have you done to your CIO?

All this talk about DevOps and how it can give businesses the necessary edge and a fundamental advantage over non-DevOps practicing organizations is moot if the CIO is not empowered properly.

Reading an article of a recent February 2015 McKinsey survey of business and IT executives I cannot help myself and ask what have we done to our CIOs?

How much of the current misalignment between business and IT is really due to CEOs and/or other non-IT leaders? Did they, willingly or unwillingly, create a specific Pavlovian behavior in CIOs?

Saving cost – the only remaining reflex in IT

While almost half of the IT executives are still in the mindset of reducing cost in IT (at all cost), leaders in non-IT functions are looking at the CIO for information that helps in business planning and decision making. Wow, isn’t that what the CIO was saying all along? IT being involved in business planning will lead to less friction and better results.

Obviously over the years IT departments have always been seen only as cost centers. And since all what IT – and ops in particular – is known and seen for, is the proverbial printer installation or preventing developers from delivering more and more innovative results quicker. Cutting cost is always easiest in parts of the business that are just cost centers like IT. They make the top of the list.

Over time many IT leaders have become so used to it, they have given up and resorted to just thinking about how to cut on IT cost as the only way to support the bottom line of the business.

As a result, and the survey confirms it, CIOs are conditioned to cut cost. For 2015 many expect even more cuts in IT spending. According to the survey IT leaders expect both OpEx and new investments to shrink. At the same time, business executive peers are more excited to support spending in IT.

Effective business through involved IT

As dire as it might look, according to the findings of the survey, there is hope. If you change. It finds that businesses with an active to very active CIO involvement in business processes and decisions show disproportionately higher effectiveness and better performance than others with less involved IT leaders.

“At companies with the most involved CIOs, executives are also much likelier than others to say IT facilitates business activities, including new-market entry and the creation of new products.”

The survey continues to put a spotlight on the fact that organizations with a deeper involvement of the CIO in business conversations as well as decisions are more effective and impactful. There you go. Leaders “across the aisle” should take a look at the data and evaluate where they stand. Do they include IT leaders properly in planning and decision making for the sake of the future of their companies.

“At companies with the most involved CIOs … nearly 50 percent of respondents report effective management of the IT organization’s health and culture; only 10 percent of all others say the same.”

The survey insights post concludes with three suggestions what and where to look for change. Well worth noting.

  • Reimagine the CIO’s role
  • Develop IT’s business savvy
  • Build a distinctive recruiting engine

Have fun,

@volkerw