New IDC MaturityScape Benchmark: IT Strategy and Innovation in the United States

Framingham, MA - 6 January 2015

A clear plan for strategy and innovation will be essential for CIOs and other IT executives to stay ahead of the business-need curve 

International Data Corporation (IDC) announced a new report, IDC MaturityScape Benchmark: IT Strategy and Innovation in the United States (Doc #252532). The study presents the results of IDC's 2014 IT Strategy and Innovation MaturityScape Benchmark Survey, and is a companion to the IDC MaturityScape: IT Strategy and Innovation (Doc #247432). These benchmark studies build on IDC MaturityScapes, which provide a structured way for organizations to identify their current level of capability or maturity, and the gap between where they are and where they should be to maintain competitive balance or achieve industry superiority.

To assist business and IT leaders in the area of developing innovative and strategic 3rd Platform capabilities, IDC created its IT Strategy and Innovation IDC MaturityScape. IDC has also used this methodology to develop a benchmark study that enables enterprises to compare themselves to others, in their own and other industries, in order to assess how well they're doing in adopting 3rd Platform capabilities relative to their peers.

The IDC MaturityScape on Strategy and Innovation describes this landscape in five stages: ad hoc, opportunistic, repeatable, managed, and optimized. Each stage of maturity is further defined by dimensions and sub-dimensions that help to focus on the specific characteristics of management strategy and innovation that can be developed or improved upon in order to achieve a higher level of maturity. For Strategy & Innovation, IDC has identified the following as key to IT maturity:

  • Leadership: Vision, innovation, ideation, domain and ecosystem awareness, culture
  • Planning: Architecture, process and methodology, and roles and structure
  • Change Management: Governance, communication and documentation, portfolio management, and metrics
  • Financial Management: Business risk and reward, budgetary control, data analysis, and benchmarking

According to the new report, the greatest percentage of the organizations view themselves as being at the Repeatable stage with regards to strategy and innovation in most of the dimensions (e.g. Leadership, Change Management, and Finance Management dimensions). The Planning dimension diverts from this trend, however, showing a much more uniform distribution across the four highest IDC MaturityScape levels. IDC believes this suggests a small but real gap between leadership's ability to plan and execute on the 3rd Platform, possibly because of the difficulty in implementing new technologies with constraints imposed by budgets, existing projects, or the inability of organizations to change rapidly.

The nature of the separation in the Planning dimension, and its uniformity across stages, is in contrast to the other dimensions of the IDC MaturityScape. There is a higher portion of organizations in the opportunistic stage, as well as the lowest percentage of respondents in the repeatable stage, with the majority between those two stages. The relative uniformity for Planning, contrasted with the distribution of the other dimensions underscores the fact that many organizations have not synchronized their strategic management capabilities and showcases the need for complete maturity across all dimensions in order to achieve optimal effectiveness.

According to IDC, excellence (i.e. Optimized maturity) in delivering 3rd Platform capabilities is a function of developing a clearly articulated, business-driven set of goals and then making enterprise-wide investments in IT skills and processes that support them on a continuous basis. That implies leaving behind the silo-orientation of traditional organizations, a project-oriented mentality for development, and a separate set of IT and business strategies. It also implies that innovation in IT works best when it serves forward-looking business goals, which in turn requires the business to monitor and adapt to its changing ecosystem in an agile and responsive way.

"IDC believes that business leaders are struggling to adapt their strategies at the speed of change that the 3rd Platform is imposing on them. Additionally, because so much of the 3rd Platform relies on adopting emerging technologies effectively, there is an added emphasis on the CIO's ability to deliver innovative IT solutions that support and, in some cases, anticipate enterprise strategic goals," said Fred Magee, Adjunct Research Analyst with IDC's Research Network. "Strategy and innovation requires long-term guidance and commitment to building strategic skills in order to stay ahead of the business-need curve. A clear plan for strategy and innovation will be essential for CIOs and other IT executives."

By benchmarking these distributions across different dimensions, organizations can assess their current strategy and innovation maturity. Maturity is multidimensional: Improving maturity in one dimension will facilitate and/or require improving in other dimensions. IDC suggests that the effort to improve maturity must focus on the most important aspects according to each enterprise's business strategy, requirements, and environment. However, the least advanced dimension should never be more than one level of maturity behind the most advanced.

IDC MaturityScape Benchmark reports aid in the discussion of IT strategy and technology investments by helping IT executives and their enterprise partners gauge where their enterprise is in relation to that of their peers and competitors, best achievers, and the least invested. By utilizing IDC benchmark data, IDC MaturityScape Benchmarks enable organizations to compare maturity against peers, pinpoint which dimensions of an initiative peer organizations are more mature in, and identify the benefits organizations achieve as they move to more mature stages.

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