IT complexity has become a serious business problem—and IT managers are taking steps to control it, according to a new survey.
By Robert L- Ssheier
MOST IT PROFESSIONALS understand that much of the complexity underpinning today’s IT systems can, to business users, slow innovation and decision-making while increasing costs. Yet the limitations of technology to date have made IT more complex, not less. The good news: Preliminary results of a recent survey of more than 300 IT professionals by CIO Insight suggest that IT managers not only recognize complexity as a major problem for their organizations but are doing something about it. And almost 90 percent of survey respondents said they are implementing IT simplification projects.
We use the term “complexity” in this survey to describe decision-making, business processes and information management technologies that force employees, customers or business partners to perform too many manual steps, wait too long or struggle too hard to get the information they need.
THE CAUSES OF COMPLEXITY
The major causes of complexity cited by IT respondents all reflect the difficulties involved in managing today’s IT environments (see Figure 1, “Managing Complex IT Environments”). Not surprisingly, the many challenges involved in managing today’s hybrid environments of both cloud and on-premises systems ranked highest by 56 percent of respondents as a significant driver of excess IT complexity. Meanwhile, about four in 10 respondents mention fast-growing volumes of data, integration between systems and increasing security requirements as top challenges contributing to IT complexity in their organizations.
Although the survey results are preliminary, it’s clear that IT professionals need better ways of managing multiple systems and databases to reduce complexity. Similarly, when asked to rate the impact that IT complexity has on their business, IT managers identified the following areas most often as having an extremely negative impact:
- Inability to change business processes as needed.
- Inability to drive new business models, such as digital transformation.
- Inability to meet customer needs through omnichannel marketing.
THE BURDEN OF COMPLEXITY
As service providers to their organizations, IT managers recognize the cost that IT complexity imposes both on their own internal operations and across their entire business. When asked to rate those areas where IT complexity has had the most negative impact on IT, the top responses included:
- Long implementation times of IT solutions.
- Increased total cost of ownership (TCO).
- Difficulties in helping the business optimize and innovate.