The Troubled Future of IT

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Gartner at its annual Symposium/ITxpo this week in San Francisco has presented a number of messages to the IT profession, with few holds barred.


Gartner analyst Steve Prentice said it most bluntly:

“Now is not the time for complacency or mediocrity […] This industry is in danger of becoming one of failure. We’ve come to accept mediocrity as the norm. It’s not a lack of technology or skills. The problem comes down to a lack of vision.”


This message as reported by Larry Dignan says that technology managers are essentially paralyzed, waiting for software vendors to roll out the next upgrade, and no longer capable of leading their company’s development future innovatively.


“Technology managers are mired in mediocrity, wait for technology vendors to innovate and fear being a first mover. The result: The U.S. doesn’t innovate and CIOs risk becoming extinct.


“India is setting the pace in IT innovation. Why? India’s economy is posting growth of 7 percent and technology budgets are growing 16 percent. Bottom line: The IT projects that are built to scale to service 100 million customers will come from India, says Sondergaard. By 2015, Gartner estimates that technology engineered for developing economies will drive 20 percent of disruptive IT innovation worldwide.” Gartner: Wake up IT managers


Dignan harked back fondly to earlier days of IT when individuals showed more grit and brilliance.


Gartner’s Prentice continued in his keynote presentation to warn that executives who are looking for an agile future will not tolerate IT’s failure to give them this:


”’CEOs are looking for new ideas, and many just don’t see them coming from the IT department – too many of whom are waiting for someone else to make the first move,’ said Steve Prentice, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. ‘The industry seems to be missing the visionaries, whose drive and ambition to challenge conventional wisdom either with technology innovation or business process innovation can make the difference.’” Gartner Says Many IT Leaders Are In Danger of Failure Due to Lack of Vision


Gartner at the symposium has presented four major trends that affect IT’s future:

  1. the “consumerization” of IT – dealing with the fact that users will demand and seize the ability to add productivity-enhancing tools ad hoc, at need
  2. the “greening” of IT – taking responsibility for lowering IT’s carbon footprint
  3. alternative delivery models through on-demand services – the fundamental architecture is changing
  4. the changing nature of IT itself


What is the changing nature of IT, and its role in the modern enterprise? As Gartner says, IT faces radical transformation, either passively or actively. “Operational IT forms the essential infrastructure of almost all businesses. Strategic IT matters even more.”


Strategy is the great point here. As we’ve noted, Enterprise 2.0 is coming, and the users are busting loose. This represents a danger to security, and a challenge to coherent development. But Gartner is adamant that IT has to give up its rigid control model. How then can IT shepherd the enterprise into the future technologically?


The answer, as many commentators have noted, is for IT to become far more intimately connected with the business aspects of the enterprise, to treat stakeholders as customers, to learn the language of the business side, and to presentvalue propositions to the C-level of decision-making in the company.


At Dovetail Software, we deal with some very bright IT departments. IT people as we have always known them are by no means an extinct species in the US. Rather, business and technology both face enormous challenges and opportunities for growth and change, and companies can be overwhelmed by the blur of choices.


At Dovetail we present the very straightforward and tangible cost savings and material benefits that derive fromenhancing a legacy Amdocs Clarify installation with Dovetail CRM. And yet, sometimes for no discernible reason, management teams will simply decline to take the step forward. This can happen even with IT enthusiastic for enhancement – perhaps an indication that business managers are starting to think around the IT box.


Perhaps the answer is that IT has to make its move into its new future, and become advocates for technological innovation, so that business managers can rouse themselves from their necessary conservatism, and make the right choices.