Shared services deliver CIO challenge: Ovum

The migration of large enterprises, private and public sector alike, towards IT and application delivery via shared services is putting the CIO under new pressure, according to a new report from industry analysts Ovum.

“The trend towards shared services is shining a spotlight on the maturity of CIO functions”, says Ovum’s Melbourne based Research Director, Dr. Steve Hodgkinson.

Ovum has published a report titled “Is your CIO function mature enough?” which provides a model for assessing the maturity of CIO functions in the context of an enterprise-wide ICT strategy.

Shared ICT services strategies often start out focusing on the creation of the shared services entity and the transition of services and resources from divisions and business units into a shared services centre – usually located at corporate level.

“Little thought is given to the changes required in the enterprise’s CIO functions”, comments Dr. Hodgkinson.

Once a shared service is established, it becomes apparent that its success is primarily in the hands of its customers.

“Divisional and business unit CIO functions play a critical, and often under-valued, role in prioritising and marshalling service demands”, adds Dr Hodgkinson.

Immature CIO functions lead to uncoordinated and fragmented demands being placed on the shared service provider. This ‘many-to-one’ dynamic inevitably leads to unsatisfied customers and undermines the sustainability of the shared services model.

Mature CIO functions, on the other hand, have the influence needed to better align business demands with the shared services provider’s capabilities and to promote a strategic, enterprise-wide, perspective in decision making around shared services. Mature CIO functions enable ‘intelligent customer’ behaviors.

The bottom line is that the sustainable success of a shared services strategy depends on the maturity of CIO functions in terms of their remit, the range of activities they perform and the reach of their enterprise-wide influence. Any shared services strategy should explicitly include consideration of the impact of shared services on CIO functions, and visa versa.