Meta CEO on the adaptive IT organisation

As the economy slowly rebounds and companies become more focused on revenue enhancement, it's becoming increasingly necessary for IT organisations to become more adaptive and sense and respond quickly to business demands, according to analysts at Meta Group.

As the economy slowly rebounds and companies become more focused on revenue enhancement, it's becoming increasingly necessary for IT organisations to become more adaptive and sense and respond quickly to business demands, according to analysts at Meta Group, which held its Metamorphosis conference last week.

To do that, say Meta Group analysts, IT managers will have to develop more agile staffers who can be moved around the organisation as needed. They'll also have to shift more fixed IT costs into a variable cost structure to react to changing business conditions faster. But to make this happen, IT managers must become more effective leaders to drive necessary cultural and business process changes.

Computerworld's Thomas Hoffman caught up with Meta Group president and CEO Fred Amoroso to discuss how IT managers can respond to these demands and how the research company itself is trying to be more adaptive in its approach with clients.

What are the biggest challenges your customers struggle with as they try to make their IT organisations more adaptive?

In our CIO-only meeting yesterday, the people tasked with these concerns were saying that they're not seeing enough change necessary from the business side. Our position is that IT has to drive these adaptive changes.

Fundamentally, it's a leadership issue. You're trying to change the culture of the company in how it manages IT and responds to business requirements.

The idea behind the adaptive IT organisation isn't new; we've been talking about this to customers for the past couple of years in areas such as portfolio management and the need to apply a variable cost structure.

How is Meta Group itself trying to adapt to customer demands?

Clients do not need to have a line item on their budgets for (purchasing analyst) research. We have to create value.

What we're trying to do is say it's not just about the research. Some of our competitors are commoditising themselves to read-only research seats. We're fundamentally changing Meta from a provider of published research to applied or pragmatic research.

One CIO I was speaking with (from a telecommunications equipment maker) says his company is getting much more detail-oriented advice from us. I'm hoping they'll extend their relationship with us to an enterprise deal across the various countries they operate in.

Who are your target customers?

Has this changed since you became CEO in July 2002? No, it hasn't really changed. Our customers are across the board. We're reasonably strong among middle-market companies, especially in our Executive Directions (consulting) group. But we also have 29 or 30 of the Dow 30 as our clients and most of the Fortune 1000.

While 70 % of our revenues are from end-user clients, 30 % are from vendors. So what we're trying to do is segment services we provide between large, established vendors and emerging vendors that have a different set of needs.

Have you made any recent organisational or strategic changes at Meta?

We recently made some changes in our research organisation to change the way we approach IP (intellectual property). Fortune 2,000 customers want to be able to implement global IT architectures. So whether you engage with our analysts in London, Sydney or New York, you'll get a consistent view from our analysts.

We also began developing a new product in the last 60 days to help CIOs develop their own management capabilities and help develop (their) direct reports as next-generation CIOs.

How's business at Meta?

We're seeing an uplift in IT spending, varying from 3 % to 5 % worldwide. There's a lot of focus on pushing through what had been delayed replenishments in infrastructure upgrades, and big spending is continuing on security. But regardless of the geography, even where GDP growth is strong, cost containment is still big.

We're not going back to the flush days of the late '90s anytime soon.

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