Modernising technologies are not enough for CIOs to succeed; it is time for IT leaders to re-imagine IT, according to Gartner. This is the era of mass collaboration driven by the consumerisation of IT. For an IT leader to thrive in this environment, they must re-imagine their role, and they must lead from the front.
During the opening keynote today at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, Gartner analysts told an audience of 8 500 CIOs and IT leaders there are three initiatives to implement to re-imagine IT: post-modern business, simplicity, and creative destruction.
“IT leaders must embrace the post-modern business, a business driven by customer relationships where the customer is everywhere, and so must your business; a world fuelled by the explosion in information, collaboration, and mobility, enabled by the cloud,” says Peter Sondergaard, senior vice-president at Gartner and global head of research. “You must pursue simplicity by putting people and their needs at the centre of design. You must dare to employ creative destruction to eliminate legacy, and selectively destroy low impact systems.”
“A post-modern business is one that completely rethinks the status quo of business and embraces dramatically new relationships with its customers, suppliers, and partners,” says Daryl Plummer, managing vice-president and Gartner fellow. “In the post-modern business, your business has no walls. It must be everywhere. It will be a virtual and fluid business that changes as customers change. In the post-modern business, you will forget phrases such as ‘business architecture’ and embrace phrases like customer delight, customer involvement, and customer intimacy. In the post-modern business, customer and constituent demands on you will change faster than your architectures.”
IT leaders have to delight customers who are more informed about their products in changing markets than ever before. Customers want to know the business cares about their immediate concerns, so CIOs have to capture the interest of customers whose attentions span is shorter, through customer intimacy.
“In a world where the average company only lasts 10 years, every added point of customer satisfaction alone could add one year to the life of your business,” says Plummer. “Post-modern businesses don’t spend all their money just on customer loyalty programmes. They invest in company loyalty to the customers.”
Businesses are becoming post-modern by leveraging the trends of the age. One of these trends is cloud computing. Gartner analysts said that most people don’t realise that cloud computing is about more than just cost savings. Cloud computing is also about specialisation. Cloud service providers are specialists who focus all their attention on doing one thing such as email, HR, or managing servers. These specialists support consumers who pick the services they want to use from the providers they want to work with. Trading solutions across a large chain of cloud services adds complexity that must be tamed. This will result in the emergence of cloud brokerages.
“Cloud brokerages can aggregate, integrate, govern, or customise cloud services to make those services more specific to the needs of the consumers,” Plummer says. “They will re-imagine business, and post-modern businesses will even re-imagine the roles that IT departments will play. Three out of 10 IT organisations will become cloud brokers for their business, and that is one way they will survive.”
“We live in such a complex, time-crunched world,” says Hung LeHong, research vice president at Gartner. “The result is that we all crave simplicity, and so in re-imagining IT, IT leaders have the opportunity – no, the responsibility – to deliver simplicity to their customers and employees.”
Gartner analysts says evidence of this demand to simplicity has been the shift from PCs to mobile. People are gravitating to the simplicity of the mobile and tablet experiences, and developers are following.
“By 2015, mobile application development projects targeting smartphones and tablets will outnumber PC projects by four to one. The PC is no longer king,” LeHong says. “IT needs to be part of building out this future. Things should be so simple that people should be able to do what they need to do on any device.”
With the shift to the mobile world, Gartner analysts said context-aware computing is crucial. It helps IT leaders understand intent, so that they can create simpler, yet richer experiences.
“Context-aware computing is the intersection between our separate lives in the digital, mobile, social and physical world,” says LeHong. “Context-aware applications take context about me in the physical world – such as my location, time of day – and my usage patterns in the digital world, and deliver it to the me in the mobile world.”
“Simplicity done right does not eliminate complexity, it makes it invisible,” he adds. “You’re not trying to ‘dumb down’ an experience; you’re trying to enrich it.”
This means IT leaders will need people on their teams who know how to get context, such as from a location from a smartphone, or understand intent based on past behaviour, or infer it from social network activity, in a way that is natural, invisible and enriching to employees and customers.
“Most IT organisations have 70% or more of their time, money and mindshare locked into reliability, keeping things going,” says Tina Nunno, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Yet demands for game changing IT capabilities are growing every year. IT leaders must transform their businesses, products, services, and value proposition to the external customer, and challenge traditional ways of thinking.”
Many IT departments are thought of as excellent service providers to their business. While being a great service provider is difficult to do, service and leadership cannot always live in the same space. IT leaders should stop taking demands and requirements and start making recommendations. They need to turn those requests into strategic discussions.
Gartner recommends IT leaders implement the concept it calls the “Pace Layered Application Strategy.”
“Pace layering is a technique to help IT leaders make decisions about what assets in their portfolio are candidates for creative destruction. The model borrows from the way architects design buildings – separating what has to change frequently – from what is foundational and longer-term in nature,” says Nunno. “You have Systems of Record, Systems of Differentiation, and Systems of Innovation, each with their own natural lifecycles and place in the business ecosystem.”
Gartner analysts say IT leaders must destroy perfectionism and embrace calculated risk. CIOs tend to be perfectionists who are highly detail-oriented. It’s what has made so many of them good at their jobs. However, it can sometimes lead to issues with risk and uncertainty.
“Never taking risks means you are predictable and an easy target for your competition,” Nunno says. “Strive to take calculated risks and surprise both your business and the competition.”