ACCORDING to a study by ManageEngine, the enterprise IT management division of Zoho Corporation, the IT department is no longer just about networks and hardware. Eight out of 10 respondents, or 82 per cent, think that it will have a bigger role in defining business strategy over the next five years.
An independent research firm, Vanson Bourne, was hired to conduct the study, which involved interviewing 150 IT decision-makers (ITDMs) and business decision-makers (BDMs) from various Malaysian organisations about issues like the use of IT, artificial intelligence, sustainability, and cybersecurity.
In a closed media briefing, APAC’s vice president and general manager Gibu Mathew presented the findings of the study, which also examined in depth the evolving role of IT in the digitally transformed ecosystem.
He said, the study highlighted key dimensions requiring immediate attention from decision-makers along with the challenges that will arise from the redefined role of IT.
More than eight in 10 or 82 per cent believe that IT will play a significant role in determining business strategy. This percentage is significantly higher than the global average (65 per cent).
Explaining further, Mathew said, the finding suggests that Malaysian ITDMs are optimistic about IT’s dominance.
According to Mathew’s presentation of the research results, the majority of decision makers believe that the IT department is responsible for protecting the organisation from cyberattacks. Only 26 per cent of respondents said that outside security experts should be in charge of protecting their companies from cyberattacks, suggesting that internal IT departments should be held accountable.
Despite the involvement of IT in decision-making and the expectation that IT should prevent cyberattacks, only a quarter of BDMs believe IT has complete authority to prevent decisions based on technical and security concerns, according to the study “IT at work: 2022 and beyond”.
However, Malaysia is the only country in the region where a chief IT officer is more likely to be in charge of security (62 per cent) than IT and security teams (54 per cent).
Because of the increasing focus on generating digital value, IT professionals are expected to be creative problem solvers, according to 83 per cent of respondents. Furthermore, 54 per cent of ITDMs agreed that IT must support other departments so they can be proactive and creative.
“Technological innovation powered by agility, expertise and strong vision can unlock the true potential of the IT departments and can facilitate the path to innovation and transformation. The real impact will be visible through a cultural shift that promotes technological understanding, collaboration and engagement,” said Mathew.
Other findings include that, on average, almost all (98 per cent) BDMs have invested in AI and ML for more than one use case. Unsurprisingly, automation is one of the most frequently reported topics (60 per cent) but a similar percentage (61 per cent) also mentions using AI to thwart cyberattacks.
DECENTRALISING AND UPSKILLING
Sharing further, Mathew said key stakeholders will be able to use the report to consciously and thoroughly reimagine an organisation where IT is at the heart of every strategic initiative.
He said, the majority of ITDMs (75 per cent) claim that their companies have successfully decentralised their IT structures, and the vast majority of the remaining respondents are currently making attempts to do the same. Fifty-four per cent believe this decision will give more opportunity for IT to influence C-level decisions; 49 per cent believe the significance of IT’s role in the business will become more recognised or acknowledged; and there will be professional growth through upskilling (46 per cent) as a result.
Aside from decentralisation, 85 per cent of respondents said the IT department is most likely to be creating applications; however, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) agree that their organisation “encourages non-IT employees to develop their own applications using low/no code platforms” as part of upskilling efforts.
When asked about the future of ITDMs roles, Mathew stated that the ability to learn new skills will most likely be important in the next five years, with nearly 45 per cent desiring more collaboration with teams across the business.