Will 2010 be revolutionary or evolutionary for CIO’s and IT?

I ran across a press release from Progress Software, that I though worth sharing with my regular The New CIO series readers. Below, you’ll find an excerpt from the press release along with my commentary on these predictions.  You gotta love December…always some “Top 10 list for…” or “Predictions for…” to read.

Progress Software’s CTO Dr John Bates predicts that 2010 will see the following “revolutionary” changes in the IT space:

1. Real-time insight and business control will become a must-have, as organizations can ill-afford to lose money and customer through being slow to notice problems in delivery.

2. Event-driven computing will accelerate, driven by business needs, and impacting both the way applications are built and how they are deployed in the enterprise.

3. Cloud computing will become mainstream, with storage-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and compute-as-a-service, becoming widely sold and used.

4. Mobile computing will continue to be the biggest driver of innovation, extending the move from the desktop to the PDA to internet-enabled in-car systems, and even the fabled ‘internet fridges.’

5. CIOs will be forced to justify IT investments, because the recession has killed off the notion of ‘IT for IT’s sake,’ CIOs must demonstrate rapid return on investment, business relevance and the strategic importance of IT to innovate to release funding for projects.

Some interesting predictions.  Let’s take a brief look at each prediction and see if it makes sense.

Prediction #1 – Real-time insight and business control will be a must have.

I can see this. This type of data is a must-have regardless of whether the year is 2000, 2010 or 2050.  Why is real-time data so important though?

Is it needed to create more efficient processes?  Is it needed to create better plans?   Perhaps.  But I’d argue that real-time data is only important if you use it to get closer to your customers.

According to Progress Software:

In 2009, our research found that 67% of businesses only become aware of problems when customers report them. 80% of companies already have critical business events they need to monitor in real time

Why do you think Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are such a hit today with organizations?  It isn’t necessarily because organizations are social…it’s because it gets the brand closer to the customer and in near-real-time.

Is real-time data a revolution or an evolution? I say revolution when it comes to IT but its an evolutionary for other parts of the business due to the avaolability of near-real-time data over the last year.

Prediction #2 – Event-driven computing will accelerate and impact the way applications are built and deployed.

Event-driven computing.  Huh.  That sounds like something that’s been around a while.  While it has been around a while, I’m not sure it’s been used to its fullest extent.

What is event-driven computing? Well..in a few words: event-driven computing is a way of building applications and architectures to be able to respond quickly to any event. If you’d like to read more on the subject, go take a look at Event-Driven Computing: An Introduction for more details.

So what can event-driven computing provide to IT?  Real-time behavior of users and systems. Observation for alerts. Predictive Processing.  Some really interesting stuff here.

Is event-driven computing a revolution or an evolution? I say revolution because, if it were to happen in 2010, it would require a completely new way of building applications.

Prediction #3 – Cloud computing will become more mainstream.

There are a lot of people that would argue for and against this point.  To get one side of the argument, go read the latest BusinessWeek article titled “Forecast for 2010: The coming Cloud Catastrophe“. See another side to the argument in David Linthicum’s article on InfoWorld titled “Top 5 Cloud Computing Predictions for 2010“.

Will Cloud computing become more mainstream: Yes.  Is it revolutionary?  Not yet.

Prediction #4 – Mobile computing will continue to drive innovation

Yep.  I agree.  The mobile space is hot and will continue to be hot.  This will mean a new approach to data and security for IT groups around the globe.

Mobile computing has been around a while.  The Blackberry (granted – not really a mobile computing platform) was the first real game-changer for IT and the iPhone has changed things forever in the mobile computing space.  Add to that the netbooks and forthcoming generation of tablet computers, some rumored to run the iPhone OS and Google Android OS, and you’ve got a fully-connected, fully functional mobile platform.

But is it mobile computing going to be revolutionary? I’m not sure I’d call it that. Evolutionary is the word here. IT groups have been dealing with mobile computing for a long while and the processes and procedures are in place (for the most part).

Prediction #5 – CIO’s will have to justify IT investments with strategic plans and show rapid ROI for each project

Agreed but I’m not sure this is revolutionary. This is something that most CIO’s and organizations have been looking at for a few years now.   In years past, the CIO had to justify spending and with the economy in shambles, the Chief Information Officer‘s of today have had to provide even more justification for IT projects.  This justification is even more reason for The New CIO to be able to move into the strategic discussion with other leadership team members to help further align IT and the Business.

So…is this Revolutionary? Not at all.  We’ve been seeing this evolve for years.

Will 2010 be Revolutionary or Evolutionary for IT?

So…out of the 5 ‘revolutions’ for 2010 for the IT space listed by Dr Bates, I see only 2 that might be revolutionary while the rest are really more of an evolution for the majority of organizations and consumers.

Will 2010 be revolutionary for IT? I think it can be.  I think if more CIO’s take the approach that I’ve been arguing for in my New CIO series’, we’d see an awesome revolution in IT across many organizations. Think about how much more efficient your team could be if they spent less time on ensuring your employees weren’t surfing Facebook and more time on driving innovation through technology.

Focus on building revenue and driving innovation with technology and you’ll see a revolution. Focus on the same things you’ve always focused on, and you’ll be luck to see anything at all.

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Don’t let the big (or small) words win – The New CIO Series

In the world of  technology we tend to use either really big words, really small words and/or acronyms.

What do you think of when you think of  ‘the cloud’ what do you think of?  Do you think about Amazon‘s EC2 or S3 or do you think about  “Parallel and Distributed Processing”?  Both could be right but neither are instructive to the ‘business’ user.  For that matter, is “the cloud” instructive to the business? Probably not.

The New CIO & Language

There’s a lot of talk in the business world about finding IT leaders who can speak to the business. I agree wholeheartedly…but I also think the business needs to learn to speak to the IT world too….but I’ve covered that in detail in a post titled Information Technology Leadership and Alignment. Moving on.

To help align business and IT, The New CIO needs to first look at the language of IT.  Get rid of the big words….and perhaps the small words if they aren’t clear enough.  Look at your IT group’s language to make sure acronyms and tech-jargon are purged from the external facing documentation and communication.  Take a long look at what you communicate to the organization and how you communicate to make sure you aren’t letting the tech-speak take over.

Want to really take it up a notch and make sure you’re communicating what the organization needs to hear? Bring in a marketer and a   communications person to build an IT marketing and communication plan for your team.  Your organization has marketing plans for how you’ll attack the market, why can’t you have one for how you’ll communicate to the rest of the organization?

Be careful though…you don’t want to get too far into business language or you’ll end up using the same marketing/business jargon that every other group within your organization uses.  Keep it simple and real and you’ll be fine.

Next time the CEO asks you “what’s this cloud computing thing I keep hearing about?”, how will you respond?  Big words or the right words?

The New CIO is a weekly article about the challenges facing today’s CIO as well as what can be done to prepare for future challenges. Join me next week for another article in the series.

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Links for Oct 18 2009

What Human Business And the Social Web Are About by Chris Brogan on chrisbrogan.com

The Insider Threat: What CIOs Need To Know by Dr. Jim Anderson on The Accidental Successful CIO

Collaboration between Business and IT Leads to Innovation by Isaac Sacolick on Social, Agile, and Transformation

We Learn Best from Other People by Rosa Say on Talking Story with Say Leadership Coaching

Modeling User Competency by Scott Sehlhorst on Tyner Blain

Missing Users by Chuck Musciano on The Effective CIO

Will Cloud Computing Ever Be Up to the Challenge? by John Parkinson on HarvardBusiness.org

The Value of Visual Thinking by David Armano on Logic+Emotion

Listening. Again. by Robbin Phillips on Brains On Fire Blog

Conventional wisdom that fails for IT by Peter Kretzman on CTO/CIO perspectives

The Business and IT Must Work Together. Can You Help? by Susan Cramm on HarvardBusiness.org

Seeing beyond threats to opportunities by Don Sull on Don Sull’s Blog

The Four Things Every Employee Wants to Know by Steve Roesler on All Things Workplace

Coding Simplicity: How to Avoid Feature Creep in Your Life by Leo Babauta on Zen Habits

7 Deadly Mistakes in Selling Social Media by Amber Naslund on Altitude Branding

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The Future of IT and the CIO – The New CIO Series

The New CIO is a weekly article about the challenges facing today’s CIO as well as what can be done to prepare for future challenges.

A few months ago, I aksed a question on LinkedIn about the role of the CIO (read the original question & responses):

Will the CIO role change in the next 5 years? If so, how…and why?

Quite a few folks responded with some excellent points. I’ve been ruminating on this question (and the answers) and finally realized that I may have asked the wrong question.   Why?  Because organizations want to be more nimble. Users want to be able to do more with the IT assets.  The ‘cloud’ is growing rapidly.

I think the better question to ask is:

How will IT’s role change in the next 5 years? Can current IT groups and CIO’s provide the value that organizations need?

Find the answer to how IT will change in the coming years and the CIO’s role will be clearer.

The Future of IT

I’m not an expert nor am I a ‘futurist’.  That said, I’m going to make a few wild guesses here on the future if IT.

The big IT group of today goes away.  No longer will we see large IT groups with tons of Developers, Project Managers, Network Security, Database Administrators, IT Operations, Desktop support, etc etc.  The IT group will splinter into much smaller groups more closely aligned with the organization.

Instead, I think we’ll see IT Groups split into multiple smaller groups.  There will still need to be desktop support and database administrators and all the other things that fall within IT operations.   That said, why wouldn’t IT operations move into other ‘operations’ areas.   Is IT operations really that much different than facilities management?  They both have to keep things running don’t they? Should IT to be split into an operational team and project team and have them report into different reporting structures.

Most of the real activity will happen around the business analysts and project management teams.   Will we see the CIO migrate into a Chief Project Officer and manage all aspects of business analysis, projects and technology strategy?  Will the IT operations team be managed just like any other part of an organizations facilities are?

Conjecture and Hyperbole

While the statements above are just wild conjecture during a bought of stream of consciousness writing, I think there are some good things to think about there.  Have you taken a second to think about the future of IT and the role of the CIO in your organization?

The New CIO will need to step back and revisit the IT group to see if the organization is delivering the value it should deliver to the organization. Should IT operations be your focus or should it be on analyzing the business requirements for new IT projects?  Should you continue to pour money into legacy systems or make a clean break and move to more agile systems?

Many of you may not agree with me…but that’s the whole point of this post.  Is the Future of IT and that of the CIO certain?  Do we know that we have a valuable place in the future of organizations in our current form?

The New CIO has to look five to ten years down the road to see where you and your IT staff will be.  If you can’t see a clear picture of yourself and your team helping the organization, perhaps you need to start working to defog that future.

Join me next week for another article in The New CIO series.

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Links for Oct 4 2009

Sorry to miss last Sunday’s Link post…I was trying to recover from my vacation 🙂

Benefits of Slow Practice by Steve Neiderhauser

Is Your Strategy About Winning, Or About Maximizing Success? by Charles H Green on Trust Matters blog

Why Critical Thinking Is Not a Creativity Killer by Mark McGuinness on Lateral Action

Innovation lessons from emerging markets: Innovate beyond technology by Don Sull

A New Kind of CIO by Arun Manansingh on A CIO’s Voice

IT is a global industry by Mark McDonald on the Gartner Blog Network

More Gilding the Lily? On SaaS and the Green Revolution by Ben Kepes on CloudAve

Life as a Game by Whitney Hoffman from WhitneyHoffman.com

Are You Cherishing the Wrong Trophy? by Jay Baer on Convince and Convert Blog: Where Social Media and Email Collide

IT Values — Learning From Netflix by Steven Levy on No Secret

Why the CIO Needs to Be a Duck-Billed Platypus by John Sviokla and Chris Curran from HarvardBusiness.org

Cloud computing: misunderstood, but really not that complicated a concept by Peter Kretzman on CTO/CIO perspectives

David Letterman on how to frame a story by Ben McConnell on Church of the Customer Blog

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Agility and The New CIO

The New CIO is a weekly article about the challenges facing today’s CIO as well as what can be done to prepare for future challenges.

Are you agile?

I’m not talking about the Agile development methodology…I’m talking about BEING agile.  Are you able to deliver what your organization needs (with less resources)?

Build it….or they will

Do you have a Shadow IT group or groups in your organization?  If you said no, I’d bet you’d be wrong.   There are always Shadow groups within organizations….the difference between your organization and others has to do with the governance and network security.  Perhaps you don’t have a full-blown shadow IT group with non-supported applications and and/or hardware, but I’d put money on the fact that there is a person within your company that has purchased access to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product.

Why would someone go outside your IT organization?  That’s an easy answer….because you can’t get things done for them.

Forget that IT governance, security and processes have to be followed…the end-user can’t get what they need from you so they go out and find something on their own.  If you’re lucky, all they’ve done is purchase a SaaS application. If you’re unlucky they’ve gone out and procured a third-party platform that they want to integrate with the rest of your IT systems.

Why does Shadow IT exist?

There’s a ton of reasons that these types of things occur, but most simply, Shadow IT arises because people don’t feel they are getting what they need from the IT group.

They feel like it’s too difficult to work with IT.  It takes too long to get things done.  There are too many restrictions placed upon them from IT.

You know what? They’re right!  At least from their perspective, they are.  Think about it.  Should it take a year to get a new project management tool setup for your Marketing group?  Should your Finance group really have to care about the technical restrictions?  I say no.

How do you fix it?

While I believe the real answer is a difficult and deep one but the place to start to looking for answers is a simple one: Be agile.

Make it easier for your organization to get things done. Make it easy for your Marketing group to implement a PM tool.  Take the restrictions out of the equation when talking to Finance about a new platform.  Understand their needs first and then you and your IT staff figure out how to deliver the system that they need.

The New CIO will have to be agile and build an agile team. Agility can mean many thinks but it doesn’t mean you have to ignore IT governance, security or your processes…just don’t use them as excuses for not getting things done.

Join me next week for another article in The New CIO series.

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