Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) leaders are struggling with funding that “only keeps pace with inflation at best.” According to a new survey from Gartner, 41% of I&O leaders said their budgets increased in 2023 to account for inflation, while 37% had their budgets cut or did not increase enough to keep pace with current inflation. Only 27% saw a true increase in funding.

“While it remains to be seen what 2024 budgets will look like, the lack of real funding growth observed to date could cause projects to be deferred into next year, causing a cascading appropriations challenge,” said Cameron Haight, VP analyst at Gartner. “Given this scenario, I&O leaders must work smarter to achieve business outcomes with fewer resources.”

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Gartner laid out three actions that all I&O leaders can take to deal with economic uncertainty and stay ahead.

First, they need to develop a workplace that promotes well-being and inclusiveness. This will help with recruiting and retention, which is a major challenge for I&O leaders. There was a strong correlation between I&O teams being rated as most effective and leaders reporting that they built a welcoming and inclusive workplace.

Second, they should utilize enhanced analysis capabilities in order to determine what actions are most likely to increase efficiency. 80% of the leaders in highly effective teams report that they come up with clear strategies for transformation and optimization.

Third, they should find a way to link IT investments and business outcomes. Gartner found that 92% of leaders of highly effective I&O organizations foster coordination of investments across product lines. 

Gartner also found that only 12% of I&O leaders think they are exceeding the expectations of their CIOs. “I&O leaders must support senior leadership by proactively contributing to their organization’s ability to navigate economic uncertainty,” said Haight. “Their destinies are interlinked, as a failure by the business to execute the proper strategy will have repercussions across the organization.”