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IT efficiency is a primary goal of most IT organizations, and is fundamentally considered to be “doing more with less” by maintaining or improving the quality of IT services that is delivered to the organization, while reducing costs. By contrast, IT effectiveness is a goal that measures whether the IT department is consistently delivering maximum value to the organization. (There is a very real risk, given the speed of business decision-making and changing market conditions, that IT executives could be very efficient at executing projects that no longer make business sense. They would have achieved high IT efficiency, but low IT effectiveness.)

When improving IT efficiency, IT executives often focus on improving their reactive processes, such as incident and problem management, working to minimize downtime and fix brown-outs in the shortest possible time. They also look for ways to streamline and automate processes, to reduce the need for expensive human interventions. They frequently turn to things like server consolidation and standardization of IT infrastructure as a way to both improve IT efficiency and reduce overall IT budgets. Techniques like server virtualization can reduce the burden on IT personnel and drive down data center costs.

Ironically, some of the strategies that teams are using to drive IT efficiency can work at cross-purposes. For example, it can be more difficult to resolve performance problems with applications that are in virtual environments. And some IT teams have trouble predicting the peak workload of an application before a consolidation project, which can lead to performance issues. This can have the opposite effect on total IT costs, effectively moving the personnel costs from server administration to service resolution. IT executives are turning to predictive analysis to help them simulate these conflicts and issues before consolidations, migrations, and other projects, to make sure IT efficiency is truly improved.