What's Your Speed? How CIOs Can Master Multi-speed IT?

John Shacklady, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy and Nicholas Bayley, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy
John Shacklady, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy

John Shacklady, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy

In today’s fast-paced environment, digital disruption and shifting business operating models are changing the role of IT. CIOs face the challenge of deciding where to focus time, talent and budget. They’re in a constant balancing act of keeping systems up and running, managing risk, saving money and increasing efficiencies, all while being pulled to establish new market and revenue streams, and enhance customer experiences. On top of that, leaders from all areas of the business are clamoring for quick, breakthrough innovation–some of whom are ready to pursue it themselves rather than wait for IT because in many cases, IT organizations are not built with the ability to respond flexibly.

  ​By mastering the art of multi-speed IT, CIOs can become integral to an organization’s strategic agenda 

According to Accenture Strategy research, 81 percent of executives stated that most IT organizations do not know how to operate effectively while supporting multiple objectives at the same time. That perception is driven in part by the varying speeds at which businesses consume IT. For example, innovation and digital disruption require quick response from IT departments, but legacy systems call for deliberate care that takes time. Somewhere in between the fast innovation and the day-to-day steady state of systems maintenance, there are multitudes of other projects and priorities, all moving at their own speeds. As a result, working in two speeds–fast and slow–is no longer enough for the modern IT organization. CIOs need to master the art of delivering on technology needs at the pace demanded by each area of the business, or multispeed IT.

Multispeed IT matches the speed of technology to the speed at which the business needs to consume it. While everyone wants to be moving at full speed, the CIO needs to play the critical role of determining the velocity each objective requires while considering the architectural environment and the reality of the operating model.

By mastering the art of multi-speed IT, CIOs can become integral to an organization’s strategic agenda and high performance potential. Here is a four-point plan CIOs can use to make that happen

1. Run at Multiple Speeds–Not Just Two

IT consumption happens at many different speeds, making flexibility critical. IT departments need to restructure around end-to-end feature teams that are linked to specific business products. This allows delivery at different speeds depending on the features that the product owners require.

2. Work Differently

Take a good look at the IT agenda to determine where new skills are required to support the multi-speed agenda. Teams should be skilled in new methods like waterfall and agile; and new tools and techniques like DevOps, APIs. But also engage your organization’s DNA in a less hierarchical way of working where everyone feels responsible for the end results.

3. Decouple the Architecture

Segment the technology landscape into multiple speeds to align to business consumption and pace of change. Simplify the legacy architecture for greater agility and decouple the architecture end-to-end along the feature team structure across the entire architecture. Build in an API layer to expose core data to faster moving digital channels and ecosystem partners.

4. Automate Everywhere

All IT delivery processes should be fully automated to allow continuous integration and continuous delivery. For example, the implementation of an integrated DevOps tool chain gives clear transparency along the entire deployment cycle.

It’s no longer about moving fast or slow in technology decisions and implementations–you have to be able to shift to the right gear at the right time to meet the needs of the business and achieve the right outcomes. CIOs who build these multi-speed capabilities into the DNA of their organizations have the opportunity to place IT—and themselves—at the epicenter of the digital business revolution.

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