"These are changing the way that businesses are delivering new products and services to their customers," Mann says. "They can do it faster because of agile computing. They can do it at scale because of cloud. They can reach a richer, wider audience with social media. They can deliver products and services in entirely new ways, to entirely new audiences, using mobile."
IDC says worldwide IT spending in 2013 will exceed $2.1 trillion, up 5.7% from 2012. The biggest driver of that growth will be sales of smart mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, which will grow by almost 20% in 2013. IDC is also forecasting healthy growth in global software and services spending.
As cloud, mobility and virtualization deployments continue, there's an opportunity for IT to play a more active role in driving new business growth. It's a daunting transformation for IT, and it won't happen overnight.
Efficient or innovative?
While driving revenue was an early goal of IT, over time the job shifted to modernization as information technology seeped into virtually every business activity, leaving precious few cycles for anything else.
"Most businesses today primary rely on IT to increase their organizational efficiency," says Bask Iyer, CIO at Juniper Networks. That's an improvement from say, 10 years ago, when IT was seen primarily as a money pit. However, "IT is largely falling short of expectations to drive growth in new areas," he says.
Juniper sponsored a study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit that asked 474 IT and business executives from the U.S., Germany, Japan and the U.K. about how the role of IT is changing. When survey respondents were asked to describe the primary job of IT, their top three answers were telling: to improve efficiency in business processes (cited by 52%); to fix hardware and software issues (32%); and to improve security to mitigate potential IT-related threats (25%).
Very few businesses said they're successfully collaborating with IT on strategic initiatives such as identifying new market opportunities (9%), identifying new innovations (6%) and developing a competitive strategy (5%).
To change that, IT practitioners need to come out from behind the scenes, get to know the line-of-business executives and end users, and become more collaborative, Iyer says.