IT Departments, Here To Stay

IT Departments, Here To Stay

InformationWeek asks “Will IT Departments Disappear By 2020?”

This question comes from Forrester Research which sees the commoditization of IT as eroding the base for the traditional IT function and roles.

As we move to cloud computing–apps and infrastructure, as well as continue the trend for outsourcing IT such as help desk, desk support, and more what will be left for the CIO and his or her team to do?

The article answers this question with another major trend–that of consumerization–“differentiating value and visibility among consumers and employees.”

This is where IT can be highly strategic in serving those needs in the business that are truly unique and that enable them to be high performing and even outperform in the marketplace.

These ideas of commoditization and consumerization are anchored in Lawrence and Lorsch’s business studies of integration and differentiation of organizations, where organizations need to find their ideal state for integration of subsystems–such as through cloud computing, data center integration, and shared services–and for differentiation, where organizations differentiate themselves to address the unique value they bring to their customers.

So even with commoditization of IT and integration of services, the IT function in organizations will not be going away, no more so than HR or Finance functions went away with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions.

The CIO and IT function will be able to leverage base enterprise services as commodities, but they will be expected more than ever to focus on and provide strategic solutions for their customers and give their organizations the real technology competitive advantage they are looking for and desperately need.

This is what distinguishes a real CIO–one that provides strategic leadership in being user-centric and coming up with customer-oriented solutions that are not available anyplace else–from those managers that only help to keep the IT lights on.

If you are not differentiating, you are not really engaging–so get out there with your customers and roll up your CIO sleeves. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Holographic TV and Enterprise Architecture

>Watch out enterprise architects…holographic technology is coming your way.

CNN reported on 6 October 2008 that “Holographic television to become reality.”

Of course, the TV piece of it is only the tip of the iceberg, because 3-D holographic technology can be used in our organizations for all sort of presentations (forget about simple PowerPoint slideshows anymore), video-teleconferencing (think CISCO Telepresence on steroids), desktop computer applications (think Office and Internet applications that take place literally on your desk rather than on a flat screen). Also, holographic technology will be able to be applied to specialized areas such as tele-medicine (for example, battlefield surgery), more realistic professional training (all kinds), and enhanced command and control functions (such as common and user-defined operational picture for defense, law enforcement, and Intel), and much more.

Why is all this now seen as possible?

Recently, researchers at the University of Arizona had a major “breakthrough in rewritable and erasable holographic systems.” This is “prerequisite for any type of moving holographic technology,” like a television where “images would need to be changing multiple times each second,” says Dr Nasser Peyghambarian.

Dr.T ung H. Jeong, a retired physics professor at Lake Forest College outside Chicago, says that “We are moving toward the possibility of holographic TV…It has now been shown that physically , it’s possible.

Peyghambarian believes that this “technology could reach the market within five to ten years.”

The challenge will be to produce it cheap enough to make it viable for the mass market.

As with most technologies that reach a basic level of maturity and profitability, competitors will rush in, drive down costs and commoditize the product.

We can look forward to this tremendous evolution in the way we watch and interact with information, applications, entertainment, training, and social media.

Users will have a richer and fuller experience by virtue of using this technology. It is the job of the enterprise architect to identify new technologies like this for our organizations and to plan the way ahead for their alignment with the business, adoption and use.

Holographic technology will change the way we conduct our operations in business, government, and our personal lives.

>An Apple Turnover and Enterprise Architecture

>CIO Magazine, 15 July 2008, has an interesting article called “A Tangled Paths for Macs in the Enterprise.”

The question posed: is it time to switch our enterprise from PCs to Macs?

“Apple—a synonym for awe-inspiring design and coolness—the antithesis to stodgy old corporate technology…the iPhone’s favorable reception portends something more: Some believe it could usher in the era of a more enterprise-friendly Apple.”

Macs have come a long way…

Macs have increasingly become the consumers’ brand of choice. Apple shipped 2.3 million Macs in the second quarter of 2008, which represents a 51 percent growth for the product.”

Will Weider, the CIO of the Ministry of Health Care and Affinity Health System compares “Macs to luxury cars in a PC world of Chevy Impalas.”

Aside from the design wow factor and their innovativeness, historically, Macs are safer from viruses and have lower maintenance costs. All good reasons to consider an enterprise roll-over to Macs.

From a User-centric perspective, Apple understands how people use technology and their products seem to be the choice many would like to make!

What is holding Apple back in the enterprise?

Consumer-orientation: “Business adoption of Macs and Apple software has been sluggish, perhaps, in part, because this is a low priority for Apple. While Apple, of course, deals with businesses, it remains a consumer-oriented company, by the numbers.”

Technology refresh schedule: “Apple does not provide technology roadmaps…what’s worse they make their hardware incompatible with the previous version of the operating system, and their schedule is impossible to keep up with.”

So what is an advantage to Apple in the consumer marketplace—catering to consumer needs and rapid innovation—is a boondoggle in the business environment. Ah, a double edged sword indeed.

Further, a wholesale switch-out to Apple in a Windows shop typically involves desktops, servers, operating systems, and reworking oodles of legacy systems; this is quite a costly endeavor that is not easy to justify in resource constrained organizations.

Further, one of the core principles of enterprise architecture is standardization in order to reduce complexity and achieve cost-efficiencies, so introducing new platforms or a mixed environment is frowned upon.

In the future, as more and more applications become commoditized and moved to the Internet, thereby reducing the cost of transition to Apple, perhaps Apple will have a better chance to challenge Microsoft on the business playing field.

>IT Roles Are Changing and Enterprise Architecture

>These days, everyone likes to think that they are an architect and the ways things are going, soon this may become a reality.

ComputerWorld, 7 April 2008 reports that “New IT titles portend a revolution in IT roles.”

“Don’t expect to be part of an IT department. As a 21st century technology professional, your future—and most likely your desk—will be on the business side, and your title will likely be scrubbed of any hint of computers, databases, software, or data networks.”

Technology is being down-played and business requirements are in focus. This is good EA and common sense.

“IT is no longer a subset specialty. It is integrated into whatever work you’re trying to get done…IT is being disintermediated, but in a good way. It is being pushed farther up the food chain.”

IT is no longer being viewed as a mere utility to keep the network up, email running, and the dial tone on. Rather, IT folks are being seen as full partners with the business to solve problems. YES!

“No one know s exactly what to call these positions, but they definitely include more than pure technical skills. ‘If you’re a heads-down programmer, you’re at a terrible disadvantage.’”

The CTO of Animas, a web hosting company stated: “Outsourcing, globalization and the cost reduction for WAN technology all work to eliminate the need for systems administrators, help desk people, or developers. We don’t want developers on our staff for all of these technologies. We pretty much have kept only business-savvy people who we expect to be partners in each department and to come up with solutions.

Solving business problems requires the ability to synthesize business and technology and let business drive technology. Hence, the new glorification and proliferation of architects in today’s organizations.

David McCue, the CIO of Computer Sciences Corp. says “You’ll see titles like ‘solutions architect’ and ‘product architect’ that convey involvement in providing the product or service to a purchaser.” Similarly, the CIO of TNS, a large market research company, stated: “everyone is either an architect or an engineer.”

“Although job titles for all of these emerging roles have yet to be standardized, the overall career-focus seems pretty clear: It’s all about business.”

Wise CIOs are changing their focus from day-to-day technology operations to strategic business issues. That’s the sweet spot where value can be added by the CIO.

Enterprise architecture and IT governance are the CIO’s levers to partner with the business and plan their IT more effectively and to govern it more soundly, so that IT investments are going to get the business side, the biggest bang for their buck.