Recently, there has been quite a bit of discussion about the business value of agility and the effect of XaaS techniques. Tools like cloud computing (IaaS) provide a degree of freedom to experiment that organizations haven’t had before. In a way, the value of agility can be like talking about “opportunity costs” in business. What is the value of what you could do vs. what you actually do? That can be a hard concept to get the more concrete oriented business person’s mind to embrace.
Although a great deal of press is given to the concept of TCO and cloud, it may be agility that really impacts the bottom line over the long haul. CIOs that can understand the value of having options will be much more of an asset to their business than those who focus only on the operational issue.
I had a long conversation yesterday at VMWorld with Greg Murray of VMWare. It was one of those relatively accidental meetings that turns into a fairly deep discussion. Naturally Greg is deeply interested in virtualization and cloud and we started to talk about where cloud computing is headed and what kind of conversations should be happening within IT organizations.
We then started to head down some deep and diverse strategic passages. We talked about the value of measurement and the differences between various perspectives of the same metrics based on the functions and roles of the individuals present.
I mentioned my concern that for most of the people at VMWorld, they seemed to be thinking about cloud computing as a special case of IT automation, not the proving ground for the kind of automation issues that will be affecting all business processes over the coming years. He mentioned that one of the questions he has been asking CIOs and others is “How much automation is too much?”, “Is there a line in the sand that IT automation can’t cross?” He said that he has yet to find that demarcation of too much.
We got into an interesting comparison of cloud automation and music. Many musicians never leave the constraints of the sheet music that is in front of them. They still make beautiful music. Others improvise and take music to where it has never been before. The question for organizations going down the path of cloud automation is if it frees them to play jazz or should the organization be content to automate playing deliver a reliable product in a standard way, or will they swing somewhere in between. That kind of strategic perspective is a question for CIOs going forward who want to contemplate new value generation vs. cost savings.
I was talking with someone about the problems facing the CIOs of the future. With all the emphasis on consumerization and more recently Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in IT, the enterprise environment of the future could easily turn into a Bring Your Own Service (BYOS) to work (naturally when I did a Google search someone had already coined BYOS).
I mentioned a few weeks ago that a technical leader for large global services organization said that all applications will be pulled together by end users in the future – I hope he was just exaggerating by the way. He clearly sees this BYOS world as something he is planning on. His thinking though was still limited to IT.
If we even get close to this kind of environment where users create tools and relationships, then leave the organization (or even move on within the organization) and expect others to support what they built (we’ve seen before with Excel and Microsoft Access – both extremely useful tools), the IT team could easily end up being forced to support something that was done off the cuff by amateurs and then evolved into a mission critical tool. Can this happen with other parts of the business as well?
It the past I would have said that it was an enterprise governance issue. Now I wonder if it is more of an architecture issue. Can we architect flexibility into the system so that it is easier to develop, monitor and more importantly maintain these kinds of systems? I doubt that anything that smacks of a peer review will be supported by the user community.
As IT organizations look to a future of greater service orientation, they should look for service orientation of the enterprise as a whole on not just IT. IT has cloud and SaaS as examples from its domain but service orientation techniques can be broadened to other parts of the business. In the future we may not be talking about IT devices or bringing LinkedIn information services into the enterprise but other non-core services like manufacturing, distribution, HR… depending on the organization.
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Silicon Angle had a post titled: Top IT “Transformation” Problems and How to Fix Them, describing some of the big issues organizations are facing today. The transformation elements are the typical list of cloud, big data… Another post at Silicon Angle was the Budget Squeeze which went into more details about the constraints that most organizations are under.
I was a bit surprised the post mentioning mobility (or the closely related BYOD). For those that are really active in addressing cloud issues, mobile and cloud are starting to merge together as two dimensions of a computing abundance strategy. It is a case of being pulled in many directions at the same time as having many of these issues coalesce into a common set of opportunities.
We have all these new capabilities that are coming in at lower costs than ever before which you would think would alleviate some of the budget issue, but organizations keep finding new ways to use these abilities (and use more of them) to add value and consume the abundance of resources and possibilities.
This means that the organization’s skills defining business value and justifying investment will be in higher demand than ever before. It is critical for the CIO to have a vision and convey that dream to others.
Recently, Abbie Lundberg put out a post about The Influential CIO. It points out the shifts taking place with the integration of IT into all parts of the business as well as the consumerization effect of bringing IT into all parts of our lives.
She goes on to talk about the importance of Credibility, Trust and Relationships – which is probably true for all leaders, not just CIOs. It reinforces the servant leader concept, but not just for the employees but for the business as well. As I read the post, it reminded me of the shifting CIO role post I wrote a few weeks back: CIOs: Don’t try to hold on to your hat.