infoTECH Feature

November 21, 2016

The Endless Fight: IT's Struggle to Keep Up with the Pace of Business

By Special Guest
Pete Khanna, CEO, TrackVia

The contemporary business environment has become increasingly convoluted, global and evolved, and its pace is rapidly accelerating, showing no signs of slowing. In order to support their work in this fast-moving, complex corporate era, employees are demanding more access to business applications than ever before. They know that in order to keep up they will need to embed improved, modern technology into their operational processes to create newfound efficiencies and to enable more productive work.

This shift is causing the demand for software development to grow rapidly—adding additional importance to the role that today’s IT departments play in the success of their organizations. Enterprises not only rely on IT professionals to manage critical day-to-day activities, such as maintenance of current systems and network security, but they are also increasingly tasked with creating new, modern business applications.

The growing significance of IT departments for modern business is further underscored by CEB research, which found that more than three quarters of business professionals agreed that quick delivery by IT is a critical part of meeting business goals. In other words, the speed at which IT professionals can develop, update and deploy new applications affects the performance of the enterprise.

To put it simply: in order to play their part in their organization’s success, IT teams have been asked to tackle a rapidly expanding workload, faster. If these realities alone weren’t enough of a challenge, companies are currently facing a global shortage of traditional IT talent. In fact, a recent InformationWeek survey indicated that 73 percent of respondents at companies with fewer than 1,000 employees, and 88 percent of respondents at larger companies, feel challenged by shortage in critical development talent. Struggling to find and retain talent to help them quickly undertake their ever-growing workload further impedes an organization’s ability to respond to the demands already weighing down on IT departments.

The result? A growing IT backlog, amounting to an increase of 29 percent in the past 18 months alone. IT professionals are left fighting an endless battle as they try to keep pace with requests. Despite IT departments’ best efforts to serve the needs of their organization, the challenges and realities they face limit their ability to fulfill employees’ demand for better software. In fact, according to Gartner, by the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organization’s capacity to deliver them.

Unfortunately, when demand for technology that supports productive work remains unmet despite IT’s best efforts, employees are not set up to perform their jobs successfully enough, and the company’s overall ability to remain competitive is at risk. In this scenario, many employees often become impatient, and those who don’t want to get in the already long line outside of IT’s door will often bypass the department by finding and using solutions on their own. According to our own TrackVia research, more than half (52 percent) of employees admit that they use outside applications to support their work for a variety of reasons, including that they feel the tools their company provides don’t meet their needs and/or that the tools are outdated.

These unsanctioned software systems, known as, “Shadow IT,” leave IT teams with less control and visibility into the applications employees are using, creating an entirely new set of challenges for IT departments, including data management and security vulnerabilities.

So, what is the solution? Although it would be ideal if there were one simple answer, enterprises need to take a comprehensive approach to remedying this problem. That said, when looking to overcome the challenge of fulfilling demand for business applications, companies can look to a few key factors to help them get started.

Leverage Low-code Technology

The effort to minimize the effect of “Shadow IT” has also led to a new breed of technology, or what leading analysts refer to as, “Low-code Application Platforms,” which is at the forefront of helping IT teams keep up with the growing organizational demand for business apps. These new technologies accelerate the time it takes to develop, customize and deploy custom software by drastically reducing the need for time-consuming hand coding. Using the intuitive, drag-and-drop functionality found in low-code solutions, IT can more easily and rapidly deliver sophisticated mobile applications to the business that are fully customized to fit their exact operational needs.

Because platforms like these help to speed up and simplify the application development and deployment process; IT teams are able to more easily and rapidly respond to their organization’s growing need for business apps. Providing employees with quicker access to modern, flexible solutions that enable more productive work allows IT teams to better focus on and support overall organizational success.

Attract and Retain IT Talent

For IT departments specifically, it is important to ensure that the best strategies are in place to attract and retain talent. IT leaders and company executives should look to focus on how they can differentiate themselves from other potential employers and offer a competitive work environment. Seeking additional ways to foster employee engagement, satisfaction and retention is another best practice for IT teams that want to hold onto their valuable technical talent.

Ensure Alignment and Collaboration

It is also imperative that business leaders and IT teams are in alignment when it comes to the prioritization of development efforts, so that their endeavors reflect their relative importance to the business. Additionally, striving to make development efforts more collaborative helps ensure that IT’s final product will truly help solve the operational need at-hand. Although it may seem counterintuitive to enterprise leaders who seek to accelerate their operational speed, taking a moment to pause and find alignment among IT and the line of business can prove to be well worth it in the long run.

About the Author

An experienced executive with a history of building and leading successful technology businesses, Pete is currently CEO of TrackVia, a low-code application platform. Before TrackVia, Pete most recently was President and COO of MX Logic, an email and Web security company, which was acquired by McAfee (News - Alert) in 2009. Pete also held executive positions with Inflow and LINK-VTC. Pete earned a B.B.A. in Management Information Systems from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire.

Edited by Alicia Young

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