The IT time divide - Why is it 70/30 Operations vs Innovation?

We estimate, and the general industry consensus seems to agree, that typically, 70 percent of IT’s time is spent on operations and only 30 on innovation. Why is this? And what can be done?  With the hope that perhaps Education can play a role in this dilemma, I approached Patrick Eitenbichler, Director of Marketing, ExpertOne, for his views. Patrick’s insight is split over two posts. First, he looks below at why IT is swamped. And in our second blog from this conversation, Patrick explains how certification can create the capacity to let innovation thrive in your business. 

 

IT time divide.png Sure, we can do that….sometime

Let me start by asking you something. How often have you sat in a room when a manager from the business has asked IT to implement an off-the-cuff project and IT has said: “Sure we can do that. We have the people and budget to start today.”? Now, I’m no mystic, but I'd say that answer is as rare as the Dodo. For back here in the real world, most, if not all, IT teams are “running hot”, very hot.

 

Here’s just one example. Last week I was with a major consultancy and we were chatting through how complex IT has become. Their infrastructure comprises systems from just about every vendor you can think; a hardware profile which significantly increased the management and maintenance overhead. And this is not an uncommon situation.

 

So given such complexity, and all of the day-to-day activities from service tickets, to break-fix requests, to demands for new systems, the roll out of major projects, and hitting SLAs, IT is doing a great job simply keeping the plates spinning. But with all the time spent keeping things working, scope for innovation is lost. What’s more, people can become frustrated that they don’t have the space to make best use of their talents and help take the business forward. Indeed, an Information Week October 2012 article titled “Why Business Doesn’t Look to IT for Innovation” states that IT has excelled at achieving cost-efficiency. However, the downside is the focus on efficiency has devalued IT in the eyes of the rest of the organization.

 

Technology can be so smart

This is such a shame because, and let’s not be shy about it, IT can transform performance. Take a couple of personal examples. I hired a car from Avis recently, thinking to myself that car hire is a commodity game. But I was surprised when, a few hours before I was due to pick up my car, I received an email showing my car all ready to go. And it asked me – is this car what I want? If not, I could choose something different.

 

It’s a neat idea – one that led to me upgrading. Also, last weekend I was using a Dropbox account on my smartphone and it automatically copied the pictures I had just taken to my Dropbox account – where my family and friends could access them. These are just small, everyday examples of how clever technology can be when paired with innovative thinking.

 

What we need to do is find a way to give our people time to be creative and use their ideas to make what can be big differences to business performance. In my next blog, I’ll look at how we can do it. 

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