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Enterprise IT Needs Better Long-Term Planning, Says CompTIA Study

Only 34 percent of companies plan their IT infrastructure strategies beyond a year, and that's not long enough, says the trade group.

With constant changes in enterprise technology in everything from cloud computing to internet of things developments, not enough businesses today are planning their IT architecture roadmaps beyond one year, which is hindering businesses from staying flexible as they address their future digital transformations.

That's one of the key findings from a recent "Planning a Modern IT Architecture" report from industry trade group, CompTIA, which found that only 34 percent of some 500 U.S. business respondents plan their IT architectures beyond 12 months.

At the same time, though, some 36 percent of the respondents said that enterprise architectural planning allows for better collaboration between IT and business units, while about 61 percent reported that the expanding use of IoT will inspire them to extend technologies into new areas, compared to their existing IT architectures.

For enterprises, all of this will be vastly more important in the years to come as technological changes continue their rapid pace of change when it comes to business IT, Seth Robinson, director of technology analysis at CompTIA, told ITPro. What businesses need are much longer planning cycles for their IT infrastructures so they can prioritize their investments across different needs and technology segments, he said.

"IT is getting more complex than it used to be and businesses are wanting to use it more strategically," which is slowly leading to more formal architectural planning, said Robinson. "As they are adopting new technologies and transforming their infrastructures, there are things they haven't done in the past that they need to do to meet their business goals."

While the concept of enterprise architectural planning has been around since the 1980s, said Robinson, it has mostly been used by larger businesses which sought cost savings for their IT infrastructures, according to Robinson. Small- and medium-sized businesses, which typically don't have the money for larger-scale IT investments, need to start thinking more about these trends so they can still compete, he added.

"Lots of companies in the SMB space aren't going to hire companies to help them do this, but if they are only looking at it year-by-year today, then there's probably a more strategic way of looking at it" so they can gain some of the benefits of longer term IT planning in ways they can handle, said Robinson. "Many companies haven't adopted this yet. The study shows lots of opportunities for companies to look at it differently."

For smaller companies to make such changes and improvements, he said, they might consider expanding their budgets to hire additional IT staffers who can fuel the efforts, or they can also look to expand their partner networks.

"What companies are grappling with is how do they expand the resources they are using for technology," he said. "That's what makes it so challenging. It's nothing that's going to happen overnight. It's a journey companies are on."

By discussing the topic, CompTIA hopes that it can help provide a framework and a direction for companies to follow and to strive for as they make these kinds of organizational transformation, said Robinson.

Cloud computing and IoT add their own complications for business architectures of all sizes, according to CompTIA. By using cloud computing, many companies have moved IT architecture outside the walls of their businesses, which means they must look at it in new ways. Similarly, IoT also expands business IT footprints and brings new technology and infrastructure requirements.

"Those two things are very quickly complicating the discussion for companies," said Robinson. "These are things IT can talk with management about … [because they] might already be asking them to do more with it."

The study is based on a May 2017 survey of 500 U.S. businesses.

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