>Turning IT From Frenemy to Friend

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Fast Company (December 2008) describes Frenemies as a “thrilling intricate dance” of friend-enemy relationships.

Half a year later, CBS News (July 2009) reports that this words is added to the dictionary: “Frenemysomeone who pretends to be a friend, but is really an enemy.”

Recently, I’ve heard the term applied to Information Technology, as in they they here to help (i.e. friend-like), but boy are they often an obstacle as well (i.e. enemy-like).

Obviously not the message any IT executive wants to hear about their folk’s customer service and delivery!

Today, the Wall Street Journal (25 April 2011) writes about the “discontent with the [IT] status quo” and it calls somewhat drastically to “Get IT out of the IT department.

Why?

Based on responses from business and IT leaders, here are some of the key reasons:

– “IT is seen as overly bureaucratic and control-oriented” (51% business and 37% IT)
– “IT doesn’t deliver on time” (44% business and 49% IT)
– “IT products and services doesn’t meet the needs of the business” (39% business and 29% IT)
– “IT consists of technologists, not business leaders” (60% business and 46% IT)

Therefore, the WSJ states “both for competitive and technological reasons…business unit leaders need to start assuming more control over the IT assets that fuel their individual businesses.”

This is being called “Innovative IT”–where “IT shifts to more of a support role. IT empowers business unit self-sufficiency by providing education, coaching, tools, and rules, which allow for individuals to meet their needs in a way that protects the overall need of the enterprise.”

The result is rather than delivering IT to the business, we deliver IT “through the business.

In this model, there is an emphasis on partnership between the business and IT, where:

IT provides services to the business (i.e. through a service-oriented architecture of capabilities)–systems, applications, products, tools, infrastructure, planning, governance, security, and more.
– The business exploits these services as needed, and they innovate by “dreaming up ideas, developing prototypes, and piloting changes” that will most impact on-the-ground performance.

I believe this is consistent with stage 4 (the highest) of architecture maturity–called Business Modularity–as described by Ross, Weill and Robertson in Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: In this stage, we “grant business unit managers greater discretion in the design of front-end processes, which they can individually build or buy as modules connected to core data and backend processes. In effect,managers get the freedom to bolt functionality onto the optimized core.” The result is a “platform of innovation…[that] enables local experiments, and the best ones spread throughout the company.”

Related to this are interviews in the WSJ today with 3 CIOs, that all bear out this IT leadership direction:

– Frank Wander (Guardian Life Insurance)–“We have IT embedded into each business and we have a seat at the table. We’re partners.”
– Norm Fjeldheim (Qualcomm)–“We’re structured exactly the same way Frank is. IT is embedded in the business. I’m only responsible for about half the IT budget.”
– Filippo Passrini (Proctor & Gamble)–“Our business partners are people outside IT….in the past we were always in ‘push’ mode…now…there is a lot of ‘pull’.”

So one of the goals of IT and business is to transform from a relationship of frenemies to friends and genuine partners; this will leverage the strengths of each–the expertise of our technology professionals and the customer insights and agility of our business people.

>What’s In An IT Acronym

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In the military and public safety world, information technology is often discussed in broader strategic and operational terms.

For example, in the Coast Guard, it is referred to as C4&IT–Command, Control, Communication, Computers and Information Technology.

In the Department of Defense, they often use the term C4ISR–Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.

According to GovTech Magazine, some public safety agencies (i.e. law enforcement and firefighting) often use another version of this, namely 4CI–Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence.

The article provides some simple straightforward definitions for these (although perhaps skewed for first responders), as follows:

“- Command: The authority and responsibility for effectively using available resources, and for organizing, directing, coordinating and controlling personnel and equipment to fulfill a mission.

Control: The ability to issue orders or directions, with the result that those directions are carried out.

Communications: The most essential element. Communications between responders on the ground and command staff are critical to ensure that both groups have a common operating picture of the situation.

Computers: They process, display and transport information needed by commanders, analysts and responders. Today this increasingly includes mobile devices, such as laptops and smartphones.

Intelligence: The product of the collection, processing, integration, analysis, evaluation and interpretation of all available relevant information.”

While these capabilities are all critical to mission performance, I am not sure why we have all these variations on the same theme, but at least, we all agree on the 4Cs or is it C4?

>Nanobots—Mobility Solutions Saves Organizations Money

>Times are tough. The economy is in tatters. People have lost confidence, savings, jobs, and in many cases, even their homes. So, fear is pervasive among consumers, and they are cutting back on their spending.

And in an economy, where consumer spending drives 70% of the total economy, organizations are cutting back to save money too. One thing that they are doing is cutting facility costs and encouraging alternate work arrangements for staff such as teleworking, hoteling, and so forth,

The CIO is a major enabler for these alternate work arrangements and therefore for saving organizations money.

In teleworking, telecommunications is used for workers to link to the office, rather than have them actually commuting to work everyday, and in hoteling, workers have unassigned, flexible seating in the office, so their does not need to be separate office space allocated for every worker.

In these non-conventional work arrangements, IT creates for a far more mobile and agile workforce and this enables organizations to save significant money on costly fixed office space.

According to Area Development Online “as much as 50 percent of corporate office space goes unused at any given time, yet companies continue to pay for 100 percent of it. Yesterday’s ‘everyone in one place’ approach to workspace has become outdated in a business world where some types of work can be more about what you do than where you go.”

Moreover, “With laptops, cell phones, mobile e-mail devices, and high-speed Internet available on every corner — and the 70 million-strong Millennial generation entering the work force — some workers have little need to spend time at a desk in a corporate office. In fact, research group IDC expects 75 percent of the U.S. work force to be mobile by 2011.”

The Wall Street Journal, 15 December 2008 reports that “There’s a new class of workers out there: Nearly Autonomous, Not in the Office, doing Business in their Own Time Staff. Or nanobots for short…Managed correctly, nanobots can be a huge asset to their company.”

Here’s how to enable nanobot workers?

  1. Robust technology—give them the access to the technologies they need to be successful; to stay connected and be productive. Remember, the technology has to provide telecommunications to overcome both the geographical distance as well the psychological distance of not having the social contact and face-to-face communication with management, peers, and even staff.
  2. Clear performance expectations—It important to set clear performance expectations, since the nanobot is not planted in a cube or office under watchful management eyes. Without clear expectatiuons nanobots may either underwork or overwork themselves. Generally, “nanobots thrive on their driven natures and the personal freedom with which they are entrusted…while nanobots relish the independence that mobile technologies give them, they are painfully aware that their devices are both freeing and binding. In some sense, they set their own hours because of their mobile devices; in another sense, they can never get away from the business which follows them everywhere.”
  3. Different strokes for different folks—recognize which employees are good candidates for each type of work arrangement. Some can be very successful working remotely, while others thrive in the office setting. Either way, enabling workers with a variety of mobility solutions will make for a happier and more productive workforce and a more cost efficient enterprise.

>Why a New Blog Called the Total CIO?

>As you all know, I have been leading and promoting the concept of User-centric Enterprise Architecture for some time now.

After hundreds of blog posts and numerous articles, interviews, and speeches, I believe it is time to expand the core principles of User-centric EA to encompass all that a CIO can and should do to implement best practices that facilitate total mission success.

Thus, the concept of the “Total CIO”.

  • The Total CIO is mission-driven. He or she never compromises on delivering IT solutions that meet business requirements. In today’s world this means capturing and managing customer requirements, synthesizing business and IT for effective strategy as well as efficient tactical implementation.
  • The Total CIO is holistically minded. He/she employs best practices from various disciplines (IT, business process reengineering, human capital, etc.) to move the mission forward through infomation technology. This quality speaks to innovation, expansiveness, and thinking outside the box without ever losing sight of the goal.
  • The Total CIO is customer-centric. He/she focuses on making it easier for people to use technology. That means he/she is focused on helping people deliver on the mission. This means that rather than speaking in jargon and creating shelfware, he/she delivers useful and usable information and technology to benefit everyone from the CEO to front-line personnel.

I look forward to your comments and input.