Monday, June 20, 2016

IT organizations must adapt or die

I reviewed an IT status update earlier this week, and it gave me pause. The update mentioned several applications that we are currently replacing or updating. One, I noted, was first implemented in 1998. That's a very long time ago. It's effectively forever in "IT time."

Think about how much things have changed since that application first went live in 1998. Back then, most of us used desktops. Laptops were available, but in the company where I worked, only the CEO and CIO used laptops. They were too expensive for the rest of us. Cell phones were common, but they were big, blocky affairs that only made phone calls.

And of course, we had Windows 98.

Technology is always changing. You don't have to go back very far to see how quickly technology evolves. Ask yourself how things will be different a few years from now.

IT organizations must adapt to constant change, or they will die. Don't be the next CIO who might have brought change. Be the CIO who embraces change.

To be adaptive and responsive, I see three major trends in future IT organizations:

Business partnership is critical
Relationships with the rest of the organization must be intentional and structural. This means processes and roles. IT is the translation point between business needs and technology. CIOs who maintain strong relationships will be able to connect business needs to technology.
Workforce skills must evolve
As technology changes, we need to continually invest in our staff. Shifting from internally-developed and -developed appliations to commodity off-the-shelf systems requires IT to move focus from development to integration. Vendor management must be intentional.
IT must be a leader
The business relies on the CIO to set a direction for technology. Be that leader. IT is uniquely positioned to see across departments and technologies, and can be proactive in recommending solutions and strategies. We may not be able to predict the future of technology, but we can describe the general shape it will take. Provide a roadmap, keep it updated, and tie it to business objectives.

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