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Third-platform technologies force IT to think strategically

Deployment of the third platform impacts the way IT conducts business within its organization, calling for more collaboration among business units.

BOSTON -- Enterprise implementation of third-platform technologies -- mobile, big data, social and cloud -- will require IT to change how it does business in the coming years.

IT needs to move away from triage and become more strategic if they want to meet the changing needs of their organizations and deploy advanced technologies, analysts at IDC Directions 2014 said this week.

The third platform is about the reinvention of all the industries, with six of the top 20 market leaders being disrupted by competitors, according to Frank Gens, senior vice president and chief analyst for IDC, an IT analysis firm based in Framingham, Mass. Gens noted how future consolidation will lead to the "'Amazoning' of the industry," reflecting how organizations and users will change the way they live and conduct business.

"IT is at the core of the battles for leadership," he added.

IT assets matter less, while IT agility matters more, said Scott Lundstrom, group vice president and general manager of IDC financial, government and health insights.

One can create an environment where anything is a service, he said, adding that it's not just about cost, but rather time.

Data center at the core

IT's relevancy will grow as third-platform technologies impact the data center's infrastructure and servers. The densification of servers is happening now as companies consolidate workloads and invest in Web applications and data analytics, said Matt Eastwood, IDC group vice president and general manager of enterprise platforms. Other technologies, such as silicon photonics and low-power server deployments, will also impact data centers.

Mobilization also helps drive the changes in the data center, Eastwood said.

As technology changes, IDC's survey data revealed that 41% of its 143 IT executive respondents said application modernization was important, followed by 38% who named big data/business analytics and 35% who noted security/risk management as the key areas their organizations will focus on this year.

"IT thinks about managing risk," Eastwood said. They think about the business value of an application and how it impacts the infrastructure, he said.

Collaboration takes center stage

For IT professionals, deploying third-platform technologies alters the way their department has done business in the past.

IT is now imbued with a sense of collaboration and can work more closely with business units, said Joseph Pucciarelli, IDC vice president and IT executive advisor.

IT leadership is now a part of the business management team, according to 51% of the 143 IT executives polled by IDC.

Companies such as MCPc Inc., an IT solutions and service provider based in Cleveland, have seen the shift occur among customers with more support for IT recommendations from internal business units.

IT must partner with the business units supporting its initiatives, said Ira Grossman, chief technology officer of end-user and mobile computing at MCPc. He cited an example in which he recently conducted a bring-your-own-device workshop to a financial institution. He was pleased to see IT have a seat at the table among attending executives and business groups.

As IT becomes a partner in strategic business decisions, organizations can reduce the cost of IT departments as well.

There is an opportunity for IT to be a profit center or be cost-neutral by transforming the group into IT as a Service, Grossman said. He noted that IT's cost can now be spread across different business units' profits and losses within an organization.

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How is your IT group empowered to collaborate with key players in other business groups to make strategic decisions for your organization?