Cloud computing, legacy technology and software licensing cited as biggest contributors to IT complexity

8th October 2015: Nine out of ten UK CIOs (93%) believe that IT complexity has increased, according to research released today by Trustmarque.  The research has revealed that cloud computing (66%), legacy technology (51%) and software licensing (51%) were the biggest contributors to IT complexity across the organisations surveyed.  Nearly three-quarters of respondents (71%) agreed it was increasingly complex to understand what the right technology to use was. A further 61% agreed establishing the right solution to their business problem/need was becoming more complicated.  

“Whilst the latest digital technology delivers unmatched business benefits, improved usability, choice and agility, it requires new skills and capabilities and a significant transformation to maximise the value gained,” said James Butler, CTO at Trustmarque.  “The challenge of transforming traditional IT estates and organisations to this new platform is as significant as from mainframes to PCs, or the adoption of the Internet.  This transition from the internet-enabled business to the digital one is a huge increase in complexity for IT departments designed for business as usual technical operations, while traditional models of integration, licensing and management that were not designed for cloud are exacerbating the problem.”

Balancing innovation and operations

The research found that the complexity of managing and transforming legacy IT is difficult to reconcile with pressures from the business to assist with innovation.  Traditional models of IT are often unable to support these new requirements and increased pace of change.  As a result, 89% of CIOs stated that simplifying legacy IT whilst driving innovation is a challenge.

Against this backdrop it is unsurprising that that the majority of CIOs (79%) said that simplifying IT was a priority for their organisation.  When asked about their biggest priority 36% said it was ‘simplifying the management of shadow IT and business-led IT spend’, followed by ‘simplifying the user experience through deploying new digital technologies’ (34%) and ‘simplifying legacy IT’ (30%). The research found that this complexity surrounding which technologies meet business needs is also leading directly to concerns relating to cybersecurity. As a result, 87% of CIOs admitted they found it a challenge to stay on top of security threats because of the rapid pace of change.

Changing skills

The survey then went on to look at the IT skills challenges facing organisations today. The majority of respondents (88%) agreed that the IT skills that organisations need have changed over the last five years.  Indeed, 80% of CIOs stated that they lacked the necessary skills and resources in-house, which was affecting IT transformation projects and preventing them from meeting the needs of the business at the speed it requires.

“Balancing traditional IT operations with the increased rate of change demanded by digital technology disruption can feel like a catch 22 situation for CIOs.  Few IT departments have all the skills, or the bandwidth, required to do this.  Standardising legacy infrastructure towards private cloud, taking an application centric view of IT modernisation, whilst creating a parallel capability to innovate in the public cloud can be a good starting point to help organisations bridge the gap.  Having a clear view of what change will deliver business value, as opposed to only IT efficiencies, is a great way to shape the strategic roadmap and ensure buy-in to the required transformation.  Doing this well requires both great stakeholder engagement with lines of business and a broad understanding of the art of the possible with cloud and digital technology.  It is a huge challenge for IT departments to do it all on their own.” added James Butler

Commenting on the survey findings Phil White, IT Director at professional services firm Rhead Group, said: “Simplicity is hard won in the fires of operational and programme complexity, but it can be achieved with a mixture of experienced staff and partnering with the right managed service provider. For instance, public cloud solutions can deliver huge time, cost and quality benefits once you’ve navigated the transformational tidal wave of migrating away from traditional on-premise solutions. Leveraging experts can make this journey a lot easier.”

The research was undertaken by independent market research company, Vanson Bourne; the total sample size was 200 UK CIOs and senior IT decision makers from large enterprises with over 1,000 employees.

The full ‘IT complexity – the CIOs’ perspective’ report can be downloaded here