Organizations that had more outsourced IT services were more ready to pivot quickly, according to a small study on managed services.

In the Asia Pacific region (APAC), some studies indicate that around 89% of businesses have had to undergo significant changes to their operating processes or accelerate their digital transformation.

However, amid all the glowing figures of rapid digitalization among even laggard firms, one report seems to indicate a disparity in the DX: operations teams are having divergent views about transformation from their IT teams.

A survey of global managed services across 1,350 organizations worldwide commissioned by NTT Ltd. across 21 countries in six regions in October and November 2020 (of which 330 were based in APAC), showed that:

  • Changes to operating processes, along with digital transformation acceleration, have presented organizations with an opportunity to reimagine their technology strategies and how this aligns to the business.
  • 92.4% of technology teams globally ‘agreed’ to prompts that their overall technology strategy was aligned, either fully (49.8%) or partially (42.6%) to the organization’s business strategy needs. IT teams have become more responsive to organizational demands, while business stakeholders have fast-tracked services and solutions already held by IT, such as enabling a distributed workforce, to a far wider audience.
  • However, despite greater strategy alignment, globally, 69.9% of operations teams believed the need for a technology strategy that drives business efficiency opportunities was crucial, yet only 48.0% of IT teams agreed.
  • Further, 69.6% of operations teams globally considered speed and agility a key component of technology strategy, in contrast to only 53.4% of IT teams.

Damian Skendrovic, Executive Vice President at NTT Ltd. Commented: “The unprecedented challenges that (the pandemic) has impressed upon businesses has forced the issue of business and IT alignment into the limelight. And there is still work to do to ensure core organizational priorities are understood by all. IT is under an immense amount of pressure to deliver against present requirements, while concurrently planning for future delivery and innovation. With technology and agility front and center of the business conversation, alignment of priorities is no longer optional, it is critical for the sustainability and resilience of the business.”

Disruption as an opportunity 

Global organizations in the survey also had significant differences in approaching resilience building. While some considered cost optimization as the best way, others were focused on being ‘bold and brave’: they viewed the pandemic as a chance to take advantage of market opportunities and to scale, with 33.8% globally pivoting technology focus to achieve this. This figure rose to 41.7% among organizations that already had at least three-quarters of their IT managed by third parties.

On the other hand, only 25.7% of organizations polled with little to none of their IT managed by a third party were prepared to pivot focus.

Skendrovic noted: “While not all organizations view disruption as an opportunity, one-third have adjusted course because they see a chance to do things better and take advantage; particularly in relation to enabling a more distributed workforce and innovative technologies. ‘Bold and brave’ businesses are approaching resilience in a new and innovative light, and trusted technology partners are helping them achieve this.”

Aligning Ops and IT

In APAC, 93.9% of business and IT leaders surveyed ‘agreed’ to prompts that emerging technology is crucial for their technology strategy; less than half (43.6%) believed they had the technology available to meet the organization’s immediate objectives.

This brings to light the conundrum faced by many global organizations: the need to balance present needs while also investing in technology and process modernization to capture opportunities to scale and evolve.

According to Skendrovic, business stakeholders expect to exercise a degree of agility in execution, but IT teams are saddled with managing their own challenges. From managing vendor complexity (which further extends to integrating disparate systems) along with emerging technologies and legacy infrastructure—through to budget constraints and a lack of skills to keep pace with business demands.

To achieve better parity in alignment, the pressure on IT teams needs to be reduced through embracing a DevOps culture and platform automation. This can allow IT to optimize transformation efforts by focusing on innovation, and ultimately results in better Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) and cost-optimization, as well as the delivery of continuous improvement across the business.

Skendrovic concluded: “While change isn’t always perceived as positive in the moment, it is important to remember that transformation presents new opportunities for agility, scale, and innovation.”