A comprehensive primer for medium sized businesses
by Dale Vile and Tony Lock
Against the backdrop of an increasingly fast moving and interconnected trading environment, with
renewed pressure on operational efficiency as a result of economic uncertainty, the need for robust
yet flexible IT support has never been greater within the business. Yet many IT departments are
constrained in their ability to respond to changing business requirements, mainly because of the
relatively static way in which IT has traditionally had to be implemented. The latest ideas and
solutions from the IT industry, however, promise to help organisations develop a more dynamic
approach to IT service delivery. But, how does this translate to practicality in a medium sized
business environment in which resources and time are scarce and the opportunity to investigate
and experiment is limited? The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the most relevant
developments that have emerged from IT suppliers and, as importantly, to look at how they fit
together to enable the delivery of IT in a more efficient, flexible and business centric manner.
The time and cost associated with IT delivery can translate to a direct business constraint
Many factors conspire to hamper IT responsiveness, including, quite often, the behaviour of
business users and stakeholders themselves. That said, most IT landscapes have a degree of
inherent rigidity that extends the time and cost of getting things done. As a result, IT delivery is
frequently on the critical path for business change initiatives, constraining the rate of progress.
The historical nature of IT, and how investments are funded, lies at the root of the problem
The hardwiring of hardware to software and the monolithic black box nature of business
applications have conspired to create a fragmented and inflexible IT landscape in many
organisations. This inflexibility has been further reinforced by a ‘systems ownership culture’ in which
the way IT is funded creates artificial constraints on making the optimum use of IT assets.
Embracing the latest ideas for dynamic IT delivery can break the inflexibility cycle
Three key ideas and solution areas exist that form the pillars of a more flexible, efficient and
dynamic IT environment – infrastructure virtualisation, service oriented architecture (SOA) and a
blended approach to resourcing of both manpower and systems capability, all underpinned by the
solid foundation of business service management from a delivery and operations perspective. While
valuable in their own right, it is when dynamic IT concepts are applied together that significant
benefits are achieved in terms of efficiency and flexibility.
Driving improvement isn’t hard, but dynamic IT is more of a direction than a goal
Many of the capabilities that enable dynamic IT are already working their way into the products and
services in common use today. The trick to driving improvements is therefore to understand what’s
possible, and implement ideas naturally as opportunities arise. Our advice is to adopt a business
centric approach, and regard dynamic IT as a direction rather than a goal.
This report was commissioned by IBM and authored on an independent basis by
Freeform Dynamics Ltd based on input from a range of IT vendors and services
providers, coupled with intelligence from large scale primary research studies into
the investment and use of IT in a business context.