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How Aligned Are Business and IT Priorities?

Are Business and IT Groups Innovating Together -01.17.14

Innovation is critical to the success of every organization. According to a recent Cisco survey, 84% of business leaders agree that technology innovation is a critical or very important strategic differentiator for their companies. However, this survey also revealed that technology investments made by business and IT leadership are not always aligned. So how can business and IT work better together to deliver more innovation and business impact?

To address this challenge, we recently conducted the first phase of the Cisco Business and IT Priority Survey, which asked 1,800 business leaders globally about how their business and IT priorities are linked, and how these groups manage their innovation processes and technology investments. The good news is that 70% of business leaders indicated that their priorities and IT’s are aligned.

However, 67% of business leaders also said IT will influence less than half of the business technology budget next year. This means that two thirds of all organizations have an opportunity to better align IT and business technology spending, and deliver more innovation and business impact in the process.

Furthermore, this opportunity is growing as business’ investments in technology increase faster than IT’s. More than half of business leaders expect their technology budgets to increase up to 25% next year, and 11% expect their tech budgets to grow more than 25%. These business technology budget increases also vary widely by country – see the next installment in this series for details on our survey results different countries, industries, and business roles.

So how can business and IT better align their technology investments to deliver more IT innovation and business impact?

  1. Simplify – align and map technology and business priorities at every level. Then innovate with integrated solutions that map to more of your business priorities now – and longer term. For example, Fredericksberg Commune in Denmark reduce IT helpdesk incidents by 90% by integrating wired, wireless, routing and security technologies.

    Using SDN and automation capabilities, there are also many new ways to simplify IT and free up resources to fuel more innovation – across your entire network. See our upcoming CiscoLive! Milan announcements for more details on how to dramatically improve IT productivity.
  2. Unify – breaking down technology silos can yield huge ROI and, in turn, spur innovation. Two Cisco solutions that exemplify this principle of unity are Unified Access and Intelligent WAN. Unified Access, where policy, management and networks all work better together as one, can deliver orders of magnitude more capacity and performance than independent wired and wireless point products that may be deployed as separate initiatives. For example, the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan recently deployed an integrated wired/wireless solution, and plans to grow revenues by 15 to 20% by offering new guest services in addition to the outstanding guest experiences they’re already providing.

    Similarly, combining MPLS, Internet and 3G/4G-LTE into one Intelligent WAN can reduce overall costs by more than $500,00 annually for companies with 100 sites, and dramatically improve performance, security, and reliability in the process.
  3. Multiply – with the right network, you can add many innovative new services and applications, as well as capacity and performance more quickly to reach business goals sooner. For example, Copenhagen Airport is transforming passenger experiences by integrating wireless, mobility and location services in new ways.

    This potential value is in many current networks, but it’s even more important as the Internet of Things brings connectivity to billions of new devices and applications and previously unconnected things, changing business models in profound ways.

Because the alignment of IT and business priorities is so important for innovation and business outcomes, on January 27th, we’ll begin collecting and sharing these priorities on a global basis in the next phase of our Business and IT Priority Survey. With this intelligence, people can see how their priorities  compare to those of their industry peers, and we can all better understand how to drive business and IT together.

Our findings to date indicate that opportunities for innovation live in virtually every organization. Please join us in the coming weeks as we dive deeper into these results and show real-world innovation examples that will help your IT and business groups innovate and deliver more business impact than ever before.

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The Power of Relationships

If I like you and you like me, and you like what I like and I like what you like, then I want to know about it. You follow? Call it peer pressure, call it follow the leader, call it the ultimate marketing tool…whatever you call it, it’s the power of the relationships, the influence, that is driving friends and fans to click.

Influence, when it comes to crowdsourcing, is worth noting. Jeff Howe, the author who first coined the term in 2006, defines crowdsourcing as tasks previously done by employees “now outsourced in the form of an open call to a large, undefined group of people generally using the Internet.”  Web 2.0 technology and social media tools have made this phenomenon commonplace, with Facebook among the most popular applications.

I tend to alter the definition of crowdsourcing a bit, particularly when it comes to purchasing decisions. I think of it more as a means to an end, using the power of many to provide insight that otherwise might not have surfaced had it been left to just one person. Reviews, essentially. Add on top of that, influence, and now you not have only input and feedback on a particular product or service, but now you have individuals you know or know of weighing in. In your world, the information becomes more credible. (Cisco home products, grants contributors a particular status in its peer to peer community…adding to the pool of influencers. We’re seeing this with badging programs as well.)

A few thoughts on relationships and social media to cuddle up with this Valentine’s week.

What are your experiences with crowdsourcing?

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