I saw an interesting post at Forbes.com last week titled ‘The Coming Crisis of IT Management,’ lamenting that, “consumerization, virtualization, cloud computing, software as a service, mobility [sic] are all increasing the complexity of the job of managing IT by orders of magnitude.”
I certainly cannot disagree with that. I have written about these topics extensively, most recently tackling the impact of consumerization of IT.
By looking at the problem through the lens of the (perhaps less than) average CIO — the follower, the ‘lights-on’ manager, the order taker – Forbes.com contributor Dan Woods is painting doom and gloom instead of highlighting the potential for the innovative CIO to embrace and extend these trends to drive business advantage.
To me, this is missing the real story — that these changes are more opportunity than challenge.
Consumerization of IT
“End-users and departments are choosing their own devices, selecting and using Software as a Service applications and other cloud resources, and generally doing end-arounds [sic] to bypass the IT function whenever they feel like it.”
CA-sponsored research from IDC has shown this is true, yet it also shows how the innovative CIO uses this to their advantage. Embracing consumerization drives measurable benefits in customer attraction and retention, agility, cost, competitive advantage, satisfaction, loyalty, brand awareness, and more.
Software as a Service
“End-users just sign up for SaaS applications and starting using them without consulting IT. This leaves unaddressed the issues of security, reliability, compliance, and integration.”
Far from cringing at this, the innovative CIO will embrace and leverage so-called ‘rogue cloud.’ The rogue cloud exists for a reason, and the innovative CIO will leverage the learnings from rogue cloud to deliver what their users need (which IT had not been giving them before – and why they went around IT in the first place), faster and at lower costs, while still ensuring security, reliability, compliance, and integration.
Supporting Mobile Workers
“Which applications should be supported on mobile devices? How much of each application should be available? When does it make sense to craft custom mobile solutions? How can consumer apps become part of the picture? What is ROI for mobility? How much should be invested. [sic]“
Again the innovative CIO can embrace and leverage mobile to make their business more agile, flexible, and (obviously) mobile, so users can do business wherever their clients are, quickly, easily and profitably. As noted in the Forbes.com post, it is not necessarily easy, but solutions exist that can be applied today – so there is no excuse to hide behind fear and FUD instead of embracing the opportunity of mobile.
Virtualization and Cloud
“Virtualization and the cloud had [sic] caused an explosion in the number of assets that are being created. For the most part most data centers are operating in the pre-virtual world.”
For years I have dealt with the topic of how virtualization adds complexity (PDF). With most enterprises committed to hybrid models, cloud will also add to (rather than replace) existing complexity. I’ve also blogged about virtual stall for a long time. However, I have also spoken (as have other experts (PDF)) about how an innovative CIO can solve these issues, embrace virtualization and cloud, and deliver significant business benefits from truly agile, flexible, and dynamic IT.
Focus on Business Brings Management and Security to the Forefront
Forbes is certainly not wrong in its analysis. CIOs are facing an increased pace of change; they are losing control.
However, this is an opportunity for the innovative CIO to embrace change, allow complexity, give users more control, and move away from being the “Office of the C-I-No,” away from being a tactical cost center, and toward being the strategic asset that their business needs.
This means understanding the fundamental importance of management and security. Cloud computing and its many drivers — including social, mobile, virtualization, SaaS, and more — put management and security at the forefront, as they allow the innovative CIO to adopt, embrace, and extend these technologies, to drive incredible business benefits.
Without management and security at the forefront of planning, designing, and delivering services, IT may indeed be lost in “a state of worry” that will “keep CEOs up at night.”
However, with management and security at the forefront, the innovative CIO can rest easy, knowing they are delivering what their business needs.
They can move ahead of the curve, use public and private cloud with confidence, provide reliable and agile IT internally, and help their business to transform to take advantage of these new capabilities.
And as they “stop focusing on technology and start understanding the business they serve,” this will allow them to win new business, beat their competitors, keep their costs down, and delight their customers as IT becomes the strategic asset the business needs it to be.