IT decision-making: Who’s in charge?

Triana Jarman

New report from Sift Media looks at the IT and line-of-business relationship and how the responsibility for investment in technology has changed.

There has been a strong sense amongst many organisations that budgets and responsibilities in line-of-business departments have changed significantly in recent years, with technology in particular playing a large part in the way individual business functions look to push their capabilities and efficiency forward. This feeling was supported by a recent Forrester report which examined the way businesses are buying their technology and noted an apparent move away from the IT team, and into the hands of other line-of-business departments.
Clearly such a shift in technology related decision-making has a potentially huge impact for members of Sift Media’s professional communities, including small business, accountancy, marketing, HR, and training.  As a result we decided to conduct a survey which aimed to investigate the reality of how changes in IT decision-making are affecting readers in their line of business departments.
Questions posed as a part of the survey looked at the effect on the day to day control of technology within their departments and how the additional IT responsibility has affected the way they run their business.
The purpose of the survey was to present a wider picture to our communities of how other departments and businesses are evolving, but also to highlight to technology vendors how their approach to marketing products may need to change as a result.
Key findings
Decision-making increasingly lies with Line of Business departments
It seems there are high levels of engagement in line-of-business departments when it comes to IT, although this can vary wildly depending on the particular department in question.  Around 78% of Accounting and finance departments were found to be at least partially involved while just 11% of respondents in the HR and training teams considered themselves actively involved in technology decision-making.
Despite the shift, IT remains very much involved in technology decision-making
The findings show that the majority (80%) of IT department remains actively involved in the decision-making when it comes to technology. This supports the idea that the shift isn’t a result of dissatisfaction with IT, but a change in approach from other departments wishing to take control of their own technology needs.
The ‘business case’ for technology is growing
Also present is the involvement of the business owner in many of the key areas for technology investment, with over 83% being involved in final purchasing decisions. This appears to suggest that technology is moving from an IT provision to an overall business or departmental decision.
Expenditure on IT is increasing
More than half of the respondents to our survey reported that they would expect to see an increase in the proportion of their departmental budget going on IT spend. The return to increasing annual IT spend as the economy recovers is widely acknowledged (following last year’s 0.4% global increase, this year Gartner have announced they expect worldwide IT spend to rise by 3.2%), but what’s more notable is the greater increase in departmental spend in areas such as enterprise software.
In this post we’ve highlighted just a few of the key findings, but the Sift Media Line of Business IT Responsibility [link] report also goes on to investigate the changing IT and line-of-business relationship, breaks down the different types of IT expenditure, looks at the influence of BYOD schemes, establishes which are the areas of investment that remain the responsibility of the IT function, and looks at the future of the IT department.
When it comes to IT decision-making things have clearly changed, and they’re continuing to do so. The results of our study highlight the reality of the current shift in responsibility of technology investment from IT to line-of-business departments, and this in turn hints at how things are likely to be in the future. Whoever is in charge (and perhaps a greater degree of collaboration is key), we can be sure of one thing… the IT department will continue to be around for a very long time to come.

View the report in full completely free of charge.