Here's an interesting bit of data to make IT executives feel insecure:
Eighty seven percent of business managers said they agree or strongly agree that technology is critical to serve and support their customers, according to a Forrester survey of 2,961 business users from Q4 2010, presented at Forrester's IT Forum 2011 May 25 in Las Vegas.
Sixty-nine percent admit their normal budgets – not the shadowy ones they use for rogue projects – include line-items to buy IT products or services without the involvement of IT.
[Also see: How to build a career in cloud computing]
Their top reasons for going around IT? The need to respond quickly to changes in the market, self-sufficiency of their IT-savvy workforce, and the easy availability of top-quality it services that can be bought without long implementation or testing (cloud and SAAs apps, primarily).
Contributing to the technology gap are organizational structures under which only one in five IT organizations report to a business unit, according to a report from Forrester analyst Nigel Fenwick.
Since asking IT for something big is a political issue if it doesn't report to you or your business unit, it could very well save time (and the political capital they'd spend asking for things) for business managers to whip out a credit card instead of calling IT when they need something.
Gartner just published a report encouraging CIOs to move quickly to cloud computing, partly for the cost-efficiency it can add to IT, partly to put IT itself in a position to deliver more sophisticated IT services to business units more quickly than without heavily virtualized infrastructures.
A lot of businesses are still hesitant about cloud, and for good reason.
If they wait so long researching cloud that their whole end-user constituency drains away from them to external IT providers, however, they lose the chance to maintain security and reliability at levels they prefer and justify their salaries for next year.
The cruel truth about the easy-to-use, business-enabled Web 2.0 is that it allows customers – both external and internal – to vote with their feet.
If you can't lock the doors to keep them in, you've got to figure out how to arrange your goodies so they pick most of what they want before getting the chance to walk outside.
Otherwise IT ends up doing hardware support for legacy apps, negotiating and enforcing contracts and precious little else.
In evolutionary terms that might be the way to go; in practical terms it would be a disaster leaving technical decisions to people whose technology vision isn't clear enough to tell the difference between Cloud and fog.