CXOs Are Still Flying Blind

Image credit: iStockphoto/bowie15

A chief information officer at a large Australian corporation lives in fear of presenting to his chief executive officer and the board. He is afraid of the limited view of how his IT assets are performing.

Sounds familiar? It is a common issue and one that many CXOs, not just CIOs, worldwide are facing.

Can they be sure they can respond with confidence to any question they are asked about the availability of applications, the network’s performance, and security? The truth is that many CXOs must be hoping that other executives and board members live in a state of ignorance, so they won’t have to face the hard questions.

Opaque view

For all of the advances made in reporting, performance management, and diagnostics, it seems that one area we haven’t yet nailed down is a concept that seems so simple: delivering a consistent and transparent view of the organization’s total IT assets and how they are performing.

The consequences of this are potentially fatal for organizations and careers. I’m writing this after having a casual coffee with a contact last week. He told me about his organization’s experience, where ultimately the chief executive had no choice but to resign because he had no idea what was happening in some business areas.

While the organization talked the talk and invested significantly in new RegTech solutions that were cutting-edge for the industry, they were not implementing them fast enough. And while the organization waited for the latest solutions to take over, the old systems and processes allowed significant breaches to occur, which cost the CEO his job.

It wasn’t as if the CEO had been willfully incompetent or even remiss in his responsibility. He was focused on the business, including extensive plans for digitalization. Yet, there was an Achilles’ Heel in the legacy system, which proved to be his undoing. As the buck stops with the CEO, he owned up to his responsibility and resigned.

Unfair? Yes, probably, but someone has to take the fall when these things happen. If there had been a system when that delivered tailored insights integrated into a single and transparent view of business performance, then this whole thing could probably be avoided.  

The CIO working with my coffee date was also implicated in this but wasn’t made to take the fall, even though he felt partly responsible.

There was an organizational response, and the CIO started looking at systems that could better access data the organization already had and analyze it to deliver better reports.

Although this is a large public company using an ERP system from a major global vendor, they found that the existing system wasn’t up to the job and so engaged my friend to build an in-house solution, which could be plugged in and sit on top of the ERP.

You achieve nirvana when you have a single and transparent view of IT’s performance delivered in as close to real-time as possible. But it seems that this organization is no orphan in being some distance away from achieving this state.

Not home alone

After my coffee, I did some research and found a 2020 survey conducted by 451 Research. In July last year, they interviewed 700 people in the U.S. and Europe who primarily make and influence decisions about monitoring tools for their organizations.

The survey found that 83% of respondents are either actively seeking new monitoring services or have plans to expand or improve their approach to monitoring.  Only 11% said they were satisfied, but they were also demanding new functionality from vendors, asking for an array of commonly-provided tools independent of the major ERP systems.

“The pressure is on vendors to deliver capabilities that end-users feel are lacking in their current tools. The most important capabilities required of monitoring tools used to achieve visibility into cloud-native environments include the ability to collect granular data at scale, flexible data querying functionality, advanced analytics, and support for automation techniques,” the 451 Research whitepaper wrote.

“In addition, it has become increasingly clear that organizations have struggled with juggling too many tools that collect and retain data in silos. Users are interested in combining several monitoring functionalities from a single provider to not only reduce tool and vendor management pain but also gain new capabilities,” it added.

The research found that 44% of respondents said they were seeking new monitoring tools within a year, with an additional 39% planning to monitor new services and share common monitoring approaches across their organizations.

Modern IT environments are complex and dynamic and exist both on-premises and in several different clouds. There are often many moving parts, but organizations are limited by tools that collect and analyze only a portion of operational data.

The result is still organizational underperformance. No wonder my coffee date sees a gap in the market and is working on creating a startup to solve this problem.

Lachlan Colquhoun is the Australia and New Zealand correspondent for CDOTrends and HR&DigitalTrends, and the editor of NextGen Connectivity. His fascination is with how businesses are reinventing themselves through digital technology and collaborate with others to become completely new organizations. You can reach him at [email protected].

Image credit: iStockphoto/bowie15