According to Gartner, 60% of infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders will drive business innovation using disruptive technologies by 2025, up from less than 5% who do so today. This trend of infrastructure-led disruption will support the growth of the I&O function within the enterprise.
“As businesses face increased pressure to lower operating costs, many I&O leaders have been siloed into a tactical role rather than a strategic one — essentially, becoming custodians of legacy infrastructure,” said Katherine Lord, research vice president at Gartner. “The result is stunted I&O maturity over the past decade. I&O leaders who harness the power of disruptive technologies, such as cloud and artificial intelligence (AI), will discover new opportunities to serve as business innovators.
“Infrastructure-led disruption is the use of I&O technologies, processes, people, skills and capabilities to promote disruption and embrace risk. I&O leaders who champion infrastructure-led disruption are constantly looking for new ways to use technology to deliver business value, rather than just remaining reactive to stakeholder needs.”
New Technologies Make Way for I&O Maturity
IT infrastructure remains in a period of protracted change, spurred by new technologies that only increase the complexity of modern, distributed infrastructures. Recognising the need for growth to remain relevant in the digital age, 45% of respondents in the Gartner 2019 I&O Executive Leaders Survey indicated that improving maturity was among their top three goals for their I&O organisations. Embracing technologies such as automation, edge and quantum computing can help I&O leaders mature their infrastructure for the next wave of digital.
“Infrastructure-led disruption is about more than avoiding obsolescence,” continued Lord. “It presents an opportunity for I&O to purposefully take an entrepreneur-like approach to extend the function beyond existing organisation charts, and even reinvent the role itself. Keeping a pulse on emerging technologies will help centre I&O as a part of the business innovation and market disruption they support.”
Evolve Talent, Culture and Practices for the Future of I&O
Through 2022, traditional I&O skills will be insufficient for more than half of the operational tasks that I&O leaders will be responsible for. Further, while 66% of I&O leaders believe that behaviours related to culture hinder their agility, 47% have not adapted these behaviours to align with their cultural and organisational transformation.
“I&O leaders are at a critical decision point, in which they can either choose to embrace disruption or sit in a ‘watch-and-wait’ mode,” said Lord. “For those who choose to take the proactive approach, new skills, talent and culture will be critical for driving change in the early stages.”
Strategic alignment and purposeful alliances with the C-suite will also be crucial for the future of I&O. As business becomes increasingly digital, I&O leaders have the chance to use their technology expertise to collaborate with other leaders on breakthrough opportunities.
“Digital transformation presents a real opportunity for I&O to align more closely with the CEO and other key business stakeholders, elevating the function to a more strategic role within the organization and helping the enterprise stay ahead of the curve when it comes to embracing disruptive technologies,” Lord concluded.