A recent study of frontline IT leaders conducted by BPI Network found that while IT modernization is crucial for a successful business, most companies don’t measure up. The results show businesses are lagging behind in five crucial aspects to creating an agile and modern IT department and business. And this inability to adapt has created a significant gap between those leading in the digital age and those falling behind. Featured Resource Presented by Wheelhouse Enterprises 2015 Business Phone System Trends Brought to you by our phone systems expert is your guide to navigating the phone systems industry in Learn More It isn’t as though executives are unaware of the problems around IT modernization; 93 percent of those surveyed agreed that technology had become more important in the past five years, while 65 percent said it was “far more important.” Looking at competitors, 45 percent said that their rivals “were offering more choice, convenience and accessibility,” while another 29 percent said the competition offered better services and value to customers. Tom Murphy, editorial director at Business Performance Innovation Network, says one of the biggest shifts has been from data centers to the cloud, “Most enterprise companies invested millions of dollars in the on-premises data centers that still drive most of their businesses today with ERP applications from the major vendors. Then the cloud came along and, after some initial concerns about security and privacy, people have now figured out ways to apply it.” Companies that are invested in IT modernization are blazing a trail that is seemingly unknown, according to the study. It found that 28 percent of IT professionals reported that their business was working on becoming more agile and setting an example for other businesses. The survey data suggests that successful modernization requires embracing new technology, planning and an understanding that, in the long run, it will improve customer service and save money. Commitment One of the first keys to success when attempting IT modernization is commitment, which means that the C-suite understands the importance and provides direction and funding behind the process. According to the study, without the support from the C-suite, attempts at modernization will be haphazard at best. Of those surveyed, 42 percent cited the CIO as the most influential force in IT modernization, while 41 percent pointed to the CEO. However, 62 percent said that they were “severely under-resourced.” It doesn’t take commitment only from those responsible for implementing the plan, but also active support from the C-suite leaders. According to the study, this means that CIOs need to work closely with business managers and IT staffs to determine how to embark on a successful IT modernization project. Once a plan is in in place, there needs to be realistic budgets and continued support. Collaboration After commitment, collaboration is the next most important aspect in successful modernization, according to the study. Business leaders need to critically evaluate internal process and how to edge out the competition, all while improving the customer experience. As BPI Network points out in its study, it’s important to have cross-functional teams working to define what the business needs in terms of IT modernization. Any disconnect between IT and business managers needs to be reconciled with consistent and productive communication. These cross-functional teams will need to work to figure out what the business needs to move forward and determine the best approach to take on modernization. “Consider the company’s needs and the technologies that will be of most help in getting there quickly and at lowest-cost,” says Murphy, “Make recommendations to senior execs based on these findings, which — in the vast majority of cases — will show there is an urgent need for transformation to boost agility and speed app development.” Long-term planning Once a plan is in place with the right funding and resources, there needs to be a focus on long-term planning. This requires detailed IT road maps that outline the process for every aspect of the business. The study found that 30 percent of respondents feel business teams didn’t understand the IT systems, or how they worked, while 52 percent of frontline IT workers say business teams aren’t brought in early enough in the process.