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Line of Business Buyers Disrupt the IT Status Quo

Business technology leadership continues to evolve as more progressive organizations apply innovative digital transformation strategies. The focus is on business outcome attainment and a culture of meritocracy that reward bold leaders.

By 2024, 80 percent of technology products and services will be built by mainstream business people who are not technology professionals, according to the latest worldwide market study by Gartner.

This trend is driven by a new category of buyers outside of the traditional IT organization, occupying a larger share of the overall IT market. Today, total business-led IT spend averages up to 36 percent of the total formal IT budget, and it will continue to grow.

Business-Driven App Market Development

"Digital business is treated as a team sport by CEOs and no longer the sole domain of the IT department," said Rajesh Kandaswamy, vice president at Gartner. "Growth in digital data, low-code development tools and artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted development are among the many factors that enable the democratization of technology development beyond IT professionals."

Technology encroachment into all areas of business and among consumers creates demand for products and services outside of the legacy IT department's domain. Moreover, these business buyers’ needs don't fit neatly into product-centered offerings from traditional IT vendors and service providers.

This transition has been compounded by the COVID-19 crisis, which has only expanded the amount and type of use cases technology is needed to fulfill. In 2023, Gartner anticipates that $30 billion in revenue will be generated by products and services that did not exist pre-pandemic.

Gartner analysts said the rapid expansion of cloud services, digital business initiatives, and remote services for a distributed workforce created the environment for new possibilities in system integrations and IT optimization.

COVID-19 also reduced barriers for people outside of IT roles to create better outcome-oriented solutions by providing an entry point for anyone who was able to serve pandemic-induced needs.

These entrants include non-technology professions within enterprises – or "business technologists" – citizen developers, data scientists, and AI systems that generate or improve application software.

Technology providers are now finding themselves increasingly entering markets related to, or in competition with, non-technology providers, including innovative firms in financial services and retail.

The latter business model is creating business technology-enabled solutions more frequently and with greater ambition as more enterprises continue their digital transformation efforts.

Outlook for Business-Driven Applications Growth

Looking forward, Gartner expects high-profile announcements of business technology launches from non-tech companies to proliferate over the next 12 months.

"The availability of business technologists provides new sources of innovation and the ability to get work done. Thus, technology and service providers will need to extend their sourcing of ideas and technology development into new communities, whether they are based on citizen development, their own customer communities, or other sources," said Mr. Kandaswamy.

I believe that prior attempts by old-school CIOs or CTOs to marginalize the independent business technology pioneers -- for example, calling them Shadow IT -- was a huge mistake in hindsight. It created unnecessary friction with the line of business leaders who went to the CEO for encouragement and approval.

That said, I'm now hopeful most IT organizations will choose to enthusiastically partner with executive business leaders who staffed their teams with digital-savvy talent that drive innovation momentum.

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