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The Role of IT in Innovation: Friend or Foe?

The Role of IT in Innovation: Friend or Foe?

A lack of IT agility can stop growth dead in its tracks, but so can a business that fails to see IT as a strategic partner

Is IT in the Way, or Not Clued into the Right Conversations?

On the surface it may appear that IT, in many cases, is actually standing in the way of innovation, but the matter is not as simple as it seems, says Jeanneane Rae, an innovation consultant. Rae, cofounder and president of Peer Insight, says she finds that IT is usually absent in strategy and innovation conversations. And on the occasions when CIOs and other IT staff have been at the table for those conversations, most look bored, Rae says.

When she sees this disappointing dynamic unfolding, Rae says she wonders what cultural issues are at work. She wonders, for example, if IT teams' goals are defined by the business such that innovation conversations actually take IT teams away from the work for which they are judged. In other words, in some organizations are the CIO and his team actually penalized for being a part of innovation? Is there a misalignment between what is said to be rewarded and what is actually rewarded?

In BCG's innovation study, lack of coordination or organizational misalignment scored as the third most common obstacle to innovation at 34 percent.

Puryear points out IT's role as a scapegoat. "Company after company is waking up today and saying: 'IT's too expensive and it's too slow'," he says, "but when you peel back the covers, you discover a lot of that is because there were a couple of decades of unnecessary business complexity that's now mirrored with significant unnecessary complexity in IT."

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