They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but we can’t help but share what we learned about how IT teams are gearing up for a fast and furious 2017. Last week, Atlassians and our solution partner, Rightstar, descended on Pink Elephant’s 21st  Annual International ITSM conference at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

We debuted Atlassian’s Build the New Shape of IT initiative with ITSM software and incident communications as our solution cornerstones. Atlassian’s IT guru, Paul Buffington, participated in a well-attended lunch-n-learn session on service management and DevOps innovation. Pink Elephant VP, George Spalding, reinforced the importance of DevOps on the main stage, advising “You must start planning for DevOps in 2017, or in 2020 you will be irrelevant.”

Bring on the Devops! “You must start planning for DevOps in 2017, or in 2020 you will be irrelevant.” -George Spalding, VP, Pink Elephant

Amidst all the activity, we were most interested in the conference attendees who visited our booth and shared their plans, struggles, and vision for their IT teams and organizations.

What is the shape of your IT?

We spoke directly to hundreds of IT professionals to learn how their organizations aligned with different types of IT teams. The conference offered a great opportunity to extend a research project we began last fall when we surveyed 600 IT professionals to understand their challenges and motivations and explore how different types of IT teams embrace or struggle with the pace of change in their industry.

We wanted to see if IT teams self-identifying with specific categories drove specific behaviors. We gave people five categories to choose from, asking which one best described their IT organization:

What IT teams in 2017 look like

Similar to the results of our previous survey, “Business Aligned” was the most popular category. This is a good sign for IT teams, because as a business partner, they not only provide an IT service, but work with other functions to achieve their goals, making the role of IT more important and strategic.

Business aligned was the most popular category overall and the leading choice for mid-size organizations (1000 – 10,000 employees). Large organizations (10,000+ employees) aligned most often with “IT is the Business” and “Tactical IT Teams.” Smaller organizations (Less than 1,000 employees) aligned most often with the “Effective order taker” category. Here’s how the input from Pink Elephant shook out:

IT professionals at Pink Elephant chose the “seasoned firefighters” category more often than in our online survey. While many firefighters are striving to embrace better processes and planning, some are challenged:

“Unlike real firefighters who spend 90% of their time on prevention, we spend ours just putting out fires.” – Conference attendee

Many Pink Elephant attendees viewed “IT is the Business” as the aspirational goal they would like to achieve in the near future. IT is the Business teams recommend and develop technology and processes that not only drive the business forward but give it competitive advantage by advancing productivity, enabling fluid communication, and providing deeper business insights. Buzzwords for IT professionals aligning themselves to this category include: Communication, innovation, agile, cloud, and DevOps.


IT teams are in transition

Above all, at Pink Elephant we noticed that IT teams are on the move. Many teams saw themselves in transition between two or more categories. While they may rate as “tactical” now, talk to them in 18 months! Some are firefighters because they are small and must respond to the latest incident, but want to be more business aligned as they grow.

One ambitious IT manager portrayed his team as “order takers striving to be more.” A few respondents actively embrace big market shifts like DevOps, agile and cloud, playing the role of enabler vs. blocker.

One VP of IT is channeling the spirit of service to “bring joy to the geeks” and find pride in their output. Some colleagues chose different category descriptors, despite being on the same team. Here are some stories from these awesome IT teams:

Connie Wilson, director of client services at Yale University, believes in everything as a service. She sees her team currently as “seasoned firefighters” but aspires to be “business aligned” to help all the departments with which she works deliver increased value by taking a service approach to their business.

IT specialist, Ryan Austin, at Dart Container views his IT team as “Effective Order Takers,” but envisions moving towards “IT is the Business” where they initiate more strategic decisions.

Greg Green (@wardimus) feels his team at Oracle is currently embracing “IT is the Business” by driving cloud adoption for business services. We loved his tweet from Pink Elephant and nod to our collaboration products.

Next stop: HDI and SITS

We’re excited to continue working with IT teams as shifting technologies, processes, and frameworks reshape the services they deliver and the way they work. We have plans to be at HDI and SITs this spring and summer – maybe we will see you there!

Of course, we also shared our own IT solutions at Pink Elephant. If you weren’t there, you can check out Atlassian’s approach to service management solutions and start building the new shape of your IT.

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