The Coming Crisis of IT Management – More Opportunity Than Challenge

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.


This blog is cross-posted at Andi Mann – Ubergeek. Follow @AndiMann on Twitter.

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Andi Mann

Andi Mann is vice president of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies. With over 20 years’ experience across four continents, Andi has deep expertise of enterprise software on cloud, mainframe, midrange, server and desktop systems. Andi has worked within IT departments for governments and corporations, from small businesses to global multi-nationals; with several large enterprise software vendors; and as a leading industry analyst advising enterprises, governments, and IT vendors – from startups to the worlds’ largest companies. He has been widely published including in the New York Times, USA Today, CIO, ComputerWorld, InformationWeek, TechTarget, and more. He has presented around the world on virtualization, cloud, automation, and IT management, at events such as Gartner ITxpo, VMworld, CA World, Interop, Cloud Computing Expo, SAPPHIRE, Citrix Synergy, Cloud Slam, and others. Andi is a co-author of the popular handbook, ‘Visible Ops – Private Cloud’; he blogs at ‘Andi Mann – Übergeek’ (http://pleasediscuss.com/andimann), and tweets as @AndiMann.

This article has 5 comments

  1. Change is scary…even for IT! I think that for so long, IT was the bringer of change and there is now some role-reversal going on. Technology has become so pervasive outside of the data center that IT leaders and technical folks are struggling. We are not used to someone OUTSIDE of IT dictating a technology.

    But you are so correct that we should use this as an opportunity to embrace rather than reject, to say YES instead of no, and learn to respond to the needs of the business and not the technology in and of itself.

  2. Andi,

    Thanks for your comments here and on my original article.

    Check out this problem statement that links to all three articles in this series. http://www.citoresearch.com/content/avoiding-it-management-crisis

    I look forward to continuing this discussion.

    Can we chat soon? ping me at dwoods@citoresearch.com

  3. Dan (Bobke), thanks for commenting.

    It is true – many people fear change – and a lot of IT people are no different. But as the business demands change, they have to not just accept it, but embrace it.

    I really appreciate your focus on business too. I love technology – it is why I got into IT in the first place – and I think a lot of IT people feel the same.

    But we cannot forget that IT exist to help the business be successful, not the other way around!

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Andi.

  4. Dan Woods,

    No problem, thanks for a great article and for commenting here. I will keep an eye out for the rest of the series – very keen to see you ideas for solving the challenge!

    I will reach out on email too, look forward to connecting directly.

    Andi.

  5. Thank you for this article! The points you made are certainly what I’m seeing personally as someone who works in higher Ed IT –
    http://joesabado.com/2011/07/trends-in-student-affairs-technology-implications-to-it/

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