Rebuilding Enterprise IT

Strategic control is back with the IT department, and how organisations plan to invest in technology has changed

In 2016, we found that the relationship between IT and other departments was becoming complicated. Last year, we discovered that the strategic direction for IT and technology was starting to slip away from the IT department entirely

As we go into 2019, Vanson Bourne’s latest research shows that things are changing again. The IT department is building a framework that allows them to take back strategic ownership of IT to the benefit of the whole organisation but still gives other departments their own autonomy

This impacts strategy, budgets, innovation, and compliance right the way across enterprises

And is means that creating marketing content to get technology products and services noticed needs a subtle shift

Key findings for 2019

We captured thousands of data points and hours of recorded interviews for this research. There are so many ways to look at the results - comparing year-on-year, looking at the differences between the US and UK responses, comparing results by different sectors, focusing on particular trends or topics, and many more

The full analysis is available to read in our whitepaper

But at the top level, four findings are crucial in understanding how enterprises are changing right now


1. IT is back in charge of strategy


Last year, our research suggested that IT departments were losing control of the company’s IT strategy

28% told us that the IT department wasn’t even involved in strategy discussions, and other departments - particularly business direction and strategy groups and a centralised business development team - were making the big technology decisions

This year, the power’s swung back to the IT department. Fewer respondents say that those two departments are making strategic decisions, and the percentage who say IT’s not involved has dropped from 28% to just 19%

As a result, six in ten say the IT department is now driving innovation and new technology adoption, up from four in ten who said the same last year

They are less likely to be working on ad-hoc projects. They are more likely to be driving company-wide innovation. Looking at 2017 versus 2018, there’s no other conclusion to make: the IT department is taking back control

Dave Gallichan, Vanson Bourne project manager



2. But IT is not necessarily in charge of budgets


While the IT department might be taking back control of IT strategy, they don’t want to hinder other departments from innovating. If anything, the strategy they’re building out is designed to give the rest of the business more control of IT budgets without losing control of strategy

Last year, a minority of 40% told us that the IT department in their organisation was solely responsible for spend on products and services. In 2018 that’s dropped even further to 34%

Inevitably, each department typically wants to procure products and services for their specific roles, particularly cloud-based services. But there’s no consensus otherwise - in some organisations departments are buying their own servers and security solutions, whereas in others everything but the sexiest, department-specific solutions are procured by IT

Undeniably, the balance is shifting so that more budgetary control sits with other parts of the business. But don’t be deceived: the research shows that even if the budget line sits somewhere else, the majority of spend still happens in the IT department

At least for now



3. Anyone can be an IT decision maker


What does it mean to be an IT decision maker in 2018?

Years ago it’d be the most senior person in the IT department that would be trusted to make decisions. Over the past few years we’ve increasingly seen senior people in other departments making IT decisions…

…and now in our most recent research we’re told that IT-related decisions are being made across the organisation at an increasingly junior level

It’s still more likely that decisions will be made by senior members of staff, but comparing the 2017 and 2018 research data there’s a increase in organisations where end-users and supervisors make buying decisions

And this isn’t a concern. 59% of IT people we spoke to agree that people in other departments have the right knowledge to be able to use their access to IT budgets effectively

This is the new structure of IT purchasing. It’s not one siloed department, it’s not even just senior decision makers, it’s anyone who can make a compelling argument to buy



4. Attitudes to disruptive trends are changing


Lauren Hewings, Vanson Bourne account manager

Our research last year suggested that the boards of organisations had given the investigation of distruptive trends like artificial intelligence to strategic working groups. The IT department wasn’t necessarily involved

A first look at this year’s results would suggest that now IT’s back in control of strategy, enterprises are cutting back significantly on investigation and investment in disruptive trends. Across the board, the percentage of respondents who say that their company is investing in every type of disruptive trend has decreased. IoT, VR, and AR in particular have seen big drops this year

We don’t believe that companies are now reluctant to invest in these things, it’s more a rethink on what the strategic aims are in relation to each technology. Why adopt something simply because it’s new if it doesn’t help some particular goal or need?

The research says the same. Companies aren’t being held back by budgets or time. The most likely reason our respondents gave for not investing in more new technologies and IT trends is that jumping on every new technology is impractical

They’re not adverse to these trends. But they have to make sense as part the company’s overall strategic goals and objectives


The view outside of IT


"We need to get a mix of business and IT input on any decision to safeguard the business. It decreases the risk, it makes sure we get proper ROI. It’s about making sure that we have a joined-up process"

— Senior business decision maker in a UK enterprise organisation


Last year’s research definitively showed that IT spending and decisions don’t just happen in the IT department any more. To get a meaningful view of how enterprises are thinking about IT, we needed to perform the research across the whole organisation, not just in any one department

In addition to our survey among decision makers in IT, we ran ten in-depth interviews with senior people in other departments. Their insight is fascinating. The IT department is no longer a roadblock and there’s a genuine appreciation for how IT supports them in their decision making

Crucially, these in-depth interviews make it very clear that every company is different. Some are dealing with this new IT structure well, while others are really struggling




Join our panel of industry experts on 27th November 2018 for a discussion on what these findings mean for those targeting technology enterprise buyers over the next year and beyond


About the research

The findings in these reports are based on 310 interviews we performed in September 2018. All our respondents work in companies with 1,000 or more employees and operate in private sectors

300 of the interviews were done via an online survey with IT decision makers in the US (200) and UK (100). The remaining 10 interviews were in-depth discussions with business decision makers in the UK

All of the design, interviewing, analysis, and reporting was performed by the Vanson Bourne team

Vanson Bourne is an independent specialist in market research for the technology sector

We perform interviews across the world to help our technology clients understand how the market is changing, and we create compelling insights and content from our research data

Our reputation for robust and credible research-based analysis is founded upon rigorous research principles and our ability to seek the opinions of senior decision makers across technical and business functions in all business sectors and all major markets