Consumerization of IT

“We shall not fail or falter we shall not weaken or tire…Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”
– Sir Winston Churchill

There has been a lot of talk about the Consumerization of IT.  Among this valuable chatter are several definitions which all have credence.  My favorite is that this is a social movement which has seen the consumer tools to “get things done” move into the business world.  This is not about technology or devices, but about people who are using tools of their choosing and foregoing formal organizational channels in the tools they use at work. 

In July of 2013 eBay commissioned a survey asking 200 people to go without their mobile phones for four days.  This was a deeply emotional experience for people with a third of participants unable to finish the challenge.  When asked how they felt without their mobile devices responses along the themes of “powerless and uninformed,” “naked and unprotected,” and “lost”.  When they had the devices returned to them, their attitudes changes immediately with people reporting that they felt “happier,” “more productive,” “calmer,” and “less frustrated.”  People are clearly connecting with their devices on a deeply personal level.
Forrester brought an insight to the discussion with two observations.  First, the immediacy afforded by the consumer tools which people are using at work fundamentally affects people’s behavior.  Second, the ubiquity of the devices, connectivity, and ecosystem profoundly disrupts business models.  This leads to natural discussion points that point to there being little argument that directionally the delivery of all information will be on a mobile platform of some sort, most likely on purpose fit devices.  Implication to business and the IT organization that supports business is far reaching.
At it’s most fundamental level, the role of IT will undergo change.  As more technology, related decisions, and budget move into business units without consideration or consultation with IT here will be a grounding question that will have to be answered, namely “what is the role IT should be playing in the organization”. IT organizations that get ahead of this question will be able to shape their future, as opposed to being shaped by it.
Now that “Bring your own device” (BYOD) has taken hold in some form in most organizations, and along with this has come bring your own network, apps, data, ISP, and infrastructure, it is important to know think about where this will go.  The number and types of devices that are emerging are increasing, many of which are fit to a purpose.  The traditional end-user refresh cycle is about to change as the laptops which will be provided next year will not be accepted as expectations have changed.
Today most organizations have been tinkering with this set of technologies, committing random acts of mobility.  More often than not, this is a result of the budgetary process and the funding for mobile initiatives coming out of discretionary funds within operating budgets that have been overtaxed for too long.  The long view as noted by Forrester is that mobility has the ability to change business models.  The not quite so long view has mobility altering the future of work.  How business is conducted, both within an organization and externally to suppliers and customers.  Organizations that are thinking in this manner will gain strategic first mover advantages.  Random acts of mobility need to move to thoughtful strategic intents supported by critical initiatives and an enabling funding model.
Given the realization that mobility and related technologies are here to stay, it begs the question “how are these new technologies going to be realized within an organization?”   This is fundamentally a question that looks to a cross functional answer as Consumerization has accelerated mobile demand inside the business, and various business functions have adopted technologies, IT has historically owned the technology decisions, and still is charged with maintaining the data, legacy systems, security and protection of assets.  How the organization defines it’s operating model to develop this organizational capability will determine its mobile trajectory and how soon the “future of work” will be realized and the gains that go along with this.
A part of the realization of the future of work will be recognition that we are entering a world of disposable apps.  If at first an app doesn’t serve your needs, the next one is less than a dollar away.   Investors such as Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers have established multi-$100M venture funds to seed business oriented apps.  Companies are essentially crowd sourcing their innovation programs through multi-million dollar prize money that will create hundreds of millions of dollars of ideas.  As organization look to build their capability, the world outside their organizational boundaries will play a much bigger part than in the past and will dictate more ecosystem thinking from its leaders.
An important early step most companies need to take is to take stock of the mobile assets they currently have.  It is common at a high levels of organization a proclamation of “Go forth and be mobile!” was made and taken to heart by many parts of the organization that could download a development kit and begin to build apps.  I have found that doing an inventory of what is in place is always eye-opening.  There will be some valuable nuggets, some interesting ideas, some novel uses of the technology, and a lot of nice attempts, false starts, mismatched user interfaces, and lessons learned.  Doing a device and mobile cost inventory will be important as well and you will find a surprising amount of waste in your mobile spend.
Finally, a road map of getting from today to tomorrow needs to be created.  A long view road map noted above looks at new business models and “way of working”.  A somewhat easier task is building a shorter term road map which using the current inventory of mobile assets and guides direction to enable the current state along the lines of greater effectiveness and efficiency.  This provides a catalyst and immediacy of action that generates organizational momentum.  Tremendous value is realized with this as you will not have the organizational kinks worked out in tackling this political magnet and as an organization you will have to tack with the wind several times before you operate with speed, predictability, and control.  Focused and demonstrable commitment will be necessary to both break the inertia and subdue the competing fires which will inevitable arise.
It is an exciting future we are building.  This future is being driven from all areas of all companies. How are you shaping your future?

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Organizational “How”

 

 

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson

Wouldn’t it be nice if it organizational institutionalization was as easy as making a pronouncement of the change, waving your magic wand, saying a few words channeled through your inner warlock, and poof! the change was made.  Sadly the real world is far more complex.

Thinking about the operational “how” of your organization, requires deep thinking along many dimensions.  In some organizations this is akin to playing three dimensional chess  as the complexities of each dimension have ripple effects to across the others.   While these dimensions are not always as challenging to think through as the time-space dimension, in order to execute with confidence and clarity, each has to be thought through in an inter-dependent manner.

Strategy and Principles.  While a large topic in  itself, thinking about this component lines of the important questions of “what do we do?”" and “why do we do it?”.  Often neglected the principles of your operation take a position and define your shape to those outside your group.

Services Provided.  When you define your organization, you need to tell people why they should knock on your door, and why you will be knocking on theirs.  The essence of this is captured in services exchanged.  You don’t have to get tot he point of drafting SLA / SLO’s but drawing the boundaries is important.

Processes to be Executed.  Once you get the services you will be providing defined, you will now have the hard work of thinking through the processes you will execute to provide those services.   No need to get into level 2 or 3 charts just yet, but a clear set of level 1 processes that you can standardize on across your organization will pay efficiency dividends.

Roles.  Who will be required to execute these processes.  Not names – yet, but what are the roles required for execution and management.  Profiles of the key positions would be helpful as well, with an expectation that the profiles will provide enough detail that the HR and recruiting functions could develop a highly targeted search if necessary.

Measures of Success.  It will be necessary to define in a quantitative manner what success looks like, and is agreed upon by your peer group.  Make success measurable. Make success specific.  Make success relevant.  Make success within your control.

Governance.  How will you make decisions, and as importantly who will be making them?  Also remember that the decision making governance that you create for your organization will live with (likely) many other corporate / enterprise governance structures.  How will these inter-relate?

Organizational Structure.  So far everyone has been able to stay objective and could put themselves into the future state of how this organization should operate.  Now it gets personal.  It will be necessary to build out an organizational chart complete with names in boxes.  I have had many clients want to start here and stay here.  I have had clients that once we got to this point in the framework chose to throw out everything that had been discussed up to that point because now it was real.  I have also had client’s tell me that this is what matters because “they want to know who determines if they will get their bonus.” – thank you for your honesty.  It is definitely true that form follow function, and if you have defined the prior components, the organization structure will naturally fall out.  Assigning the names will not.

Over the next few posts I will explore in more detail some of these components in order give them the depth of discussion they need to be properly understood.

 

 

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What Professionals Do

Standing Out From the Crowd

When it comes to professionalism, it makes sense to talk about being professional in IT. Standards are vital so that IT professionals can provide systems that last.
Tim Berners-Lee

I came across this post by Seth Godin, entitled The Professionals Platform which describes the essential ingredients to what serves as not only differentiators in your workforce, but the “difference makers”. I believe the few people that get the lion’s share of work done exhibit these behaviors. Being a professional involves a code of conduct. While consultants (Blood Type of a Consultant) and contractors (Blood Type of a Contractor) are defined in the referenced posts terms of what it means to carry their associated profession’s badge, Seth does a good job of providing attributes of “being professional”

The Professional’s Platform

If you only show up when you want something, we’ll catch on.

If you only learn the minimum amount necessary to get over the next hurdle, you’ll fall behind.

If these short term choices leave you focused on the urgent, you’ll almost never get around to doing the important.

A professional salesperson refuses to engage in the short-cycle of cold call/sell/move on. An urgent plea from the boss before the end of the quarter isn’t enough reason to abandon your consistent approach. That’s because cold calls are painful and rarely lead to sales. The professional salesperson realizes that closing a sale and then moving on wastes an opportunity for both you and the person you’re working with.

A flustered programmer who grabs the relevant library without understanding its context or the role of the libraries around it will be in the same urgent state in just another few days.

The politician who only shows up when it’s time to raise money, probably won’t.

We remember what you did when you didn’t need us so urgently.

If you’re going to make a career of it (and of course, if you want to excel, you will), that means taking the time to understand the texture of your field. It means investing, perhaps overinvesting, in relationships long before it’s in your interest to do so.

When it comes down to decisions that matter, your town, every town, is far more likely to support the one who has moved in, put down roots and contributed than it is to rush to whatever bright shiny object shows up for a few days before moving on.

Location:Sydney, Australia

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Move to Information Trumping Process

Information

…The nature of demand for information technology is changing.  Most employees are now knowledge workers.  Social media is becoming vital for customer and internal communications., and data volumes continue to rise.  As a result, in the business areas that drive growth – innovation, marketing, sales, customer service – up to 80% of IT enablement opportunities relate to business intelligence, collaboration, or the customer interface.  At the heart of each of these opportunities is the need to capture, integrate, and interpret information, both structured and unstructured.
– The Future of Corporate IT, Corporate Executive Board.

Think about this for a moment. This is not as obvious as some of the trends that we see all around us, but I have no doubt about its certainty. In many ways this is a natural outgrowth of several other trends we are in the midst of.

As we move ever more certainly into a global economy, the processes we have designed for our operations will have a global flavor to them. These service providers will have mastered the art of lean six sigma, application of technology, and essentially doing more services for less, sometimes much less. The non-commoditized knowledge workers and access to the information they need (both internally and externally) will be critical.

The “Consumerization of IT” is also driving a demand for information in an always-on, instantaneous manner. Specific purpose-oriented information is expected to be at your fingertips at a moments notice. Apps have changed the notion of information to something which is highly personalized while constrained to a specific task. In this context the information provided is highly valuable but not process oriented in any way.

Mash-ups take the notion of specific purpose, specific context, information and broker relationships with like information to extend and amplify its value. Information here is stronger, but not process oriented. To the contrary, information becomes fuel for action and reaction. Scripted process simply does not fit this model.

The implications of this are far-reaching. Business processes and the engineering and re-engineering of processes will most certainly have a lesser role than today. At the same time “information engineering” will gain a greater prominence. This will not be the aggregation of data into warehouses for slicing and dicing. I see this more of reducing information to its consumable atomic level, and providing new and creative ways to reach it. Process maps will cede to APIs.

Identifying like trusted information across the ether that can amplify yours will also carry with it network effects and increase the value of all participating information. Information will also become richer and more meaningful. A CNBC broadcast can be coupled with annual reports and customer commentary can send a very powerful message.

Presentation of information will become ever more important. As we begin to be flooded with data, it will not take long until we are overwhelmed by meaningful information. Presentation of this information will be critical in that it will need to discern not only the wheat from the chaff, but be able to get to key points beyond words and numbers. What will land with the presentation of information is the emotional gravitas that the information presents and how it is presented. Everything else will be diluted in the sea of sameness.

Long live information.

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Shift to Mobile Phones

By 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. According to Gartner’s PC installed base forecast, the total number of PCs in use will reach 1.78 billion units in 2013. By 2013, the combined installed base of smartphones and browser-equipped enhanced phones will exceed 1.82 billion units and will be greater than the installed base for PCs thereafter.?? — Gartner Group

This shift is particularly noteworthy from a number of standpoints. By definition, mobile devices “have legs.” While laptops certainly have cause their share of headaches for their owners and groups that support them, mobile phone will be giving the headache volume knob a hard spin to the right.

Mobile phones are promoted as highly flexible multi-purpose devices that should be used for a wide variety, seemingly without controls. Downloading apps, regardless of how well-intentioned and how productive they will make the owners is not in the game plan of corporations who need to make sure a controlled environment for their assets. At the very least this will make the use of these devices less desirable.

Security and privacy, the constant bugaboos of the use of these devices will likely be solved through the variety of vendors who have worked on this problem, but the degree of intrusiveness will make the devices different from the consumer oriented happy-go-lucky devices that permeate society today.

One certainty is that policy will be developed to take a number of positions. Until some fundamental decisions are made there will be little movement on the corporate mobility front. For example, who will be responsible for provisioning mobile devices, which ones will be allowed, and who will be setting them up as per standard image? What is considered acceptable use, and what apps will be allowed / disallowed? Are the devices considered corporate assets or personal assets? What about the data that resides on the device? Will your IT Department be developing / extending corporate applications for mobile devices? What about maintenance?

Looking at the life cycle of these devices inevitably includes “being lost.” What is the protocol that needs to happen, and how does it change depending on level within the organization?

This trend has been underway for some time. Somewhere along the way we hit the accelerator on this as demand has been fueled from the bottom up. Don’t blink, because as the warning says, “objects may be closer than they appear!” – and they appear to be in our kitchen now.

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Shifting Asset Ownership

By 2012, 20 percent of businesses will own no IT assets. Several interrelated trends are driving the movement toward decreased IT hardware assets, such as virtualization, cloud-enabled services, and employees running personal desktops and notebook systems on corporate networks. The need for computing hardware, either in a data center or on an employee’s desk, will not go away. However, if the ownership of hardware shifts to third parties, then there will be major shifts throughout every facet of the IT hardware industry. — Gartner Group

This trend has been underway for a while. Data centers have shrunk to server rooms. Server rooms have been virtualized to a rack or two. Desktop workstations are now laptops and tablets. The price to equip your workforce has dropping and the capital budget has shrunk with it. Licensing of enterprise suites is also feeling the tremors as paying in an on demand mode is becoming a core part of the vendor conversation.

This shift in lowering capital expenditure frees up capital. How this capital is used is where the uncertainty and variability lie. Done poorly, much of this capital will be accounted for with an increase in support costs to accommodate a range of new needs. Done well, further increase in support costs will take place as learnings from best in class companies have shown it is possible to drive to razor-thin workforce support needs.

What will certainly increase is the shift in necessity for very strong vendor selection, vendor management, and contract negotiations. More to the point, this is all pointing to strong partnerships which will be forged with vendors. Driving to lowest cost may help you in the very short run, but as these trends play out, lowest price will be less important than reducing complexity and risk mitigation. The stronger the partnership, the more you will be able to do, and the greater your value-add contribution to the enterprise.

While you will most certainly have many partnerships in place now, how will they be stressed by the complexities of the trends underway. By fast forwarding five years, you will find your partnership needs different from what they are now. Hardware and software asset supplying vendors will have to pick up their game to compete for your business. The future will not necessarily be won on the balance sheet but on overall value delivery. It’s early enough to shape your current partnerships to meet this need. It’s also early enough to look for new partners with a better value proposition. But make no mistake, your partnerships in five years out will necessarily differ than those of five years ago.

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Tomorrow’s IT Infrastructure

New capabilities emerge just by virtue of having smart people with access to state-of-the-art technology.  – Robert E. Kahn

At a time where we have a confluence of many technologies achieving “mainstream” status, and IT departments undergoing significant change, I would like to hear from you on what you think the future will look like for IT Organizations and CIO’s 5 years from now.

Fast forward yourself 5 years into the future where you are the leader of your company’s IT organization. What does your infrastructure like? This is an interesting question. First of all, the question ”will your company have an IT infrastructure?” probably needs to be asked, as there are many cases to be made for having others provide your technology infrastructure in the same way as your ISP provides you Internet access.  It is also very realistic to assume that there will be many hybrid models in place where organizations will own and manage part of their infrastructure and other parts will be provided by organizations other than yours, possibly in other geographies who can accommodate specific circumstances outside of the general case.

Let’s assume for now that you will manage your own infrastructure. Will it be based on private clouds that allow for a flexible on-demand service and capacity? Will the service desk have greater or lesser impact on your organization? Everyone believes that mobile devices will be the next form factor that will change the way systems are designed and businesses interact with. How much of your efforts will applied to mobility based assets? Will these mobile devices be supplied by your employees or your company and what operating system will they run? Security and privacy will undoubtedly play a significant role in this new environment, will it take a new form? How much of your infrastructure will be located or managed in different geographies?

Certainly there are more questions than answers at this point.  While each of these trends will play out at a different pace, they are all underway now and as the implications of these trends may be profound.  There is little doubt that future organization’s technology infrastructure will look different from that of today.   Although all precincts have yet to report, early reports are showing that there are significant benefits in moving towards an on-demand, just-in-time infrastructure which may take many forms.

Whatever your five-year vision has placed you in charge of, it’s clear that you have your work cut out for you to make this happen. Five years will go by in the blink of an eye.

What is your vision of your IT infrastructure five years from now?

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IT Organization of the Future

Looking into the Future

There are many methods for predicting the future. For example, you can read horoscopes, tea leaves, tarot cards, or crystal balls.  Collectively these methods are known as “nutty methods.” Or you can put well-researched facts into sophisticated computer models, more commonly referred to as “a complete waste of time.”   — Douglas Adams

In a world where we often don’t look beyond the next set of quarterly financial statements, it is occasionally refreshing to take a pause and fast forward the tape to imagine what out world will be like in three or five years.

We are at point in time where there are many changes underway, some trends can be followed with a reasonable level of confidence, while others are more speculative. The number of discontinuities may be greater than ever, and the implications these trends and discontinuities will have will definitely play into how the future unfolds.

Over the next series of posts I will be exploring many aspects of the IT Organization of the future. Technology, business integration, financial authority, governance and transparency, regulatory review, vendors and contract management, global workforce, operating model, speed of change are all on the table.

I look forward to hearing from you, the readers of this blog, on where you see the future heading in your world. My guess is that the spectrum of opinions will be broad and how these get tallied for each person will add up to a different outcome. So join me if you will, this promises to be interesting.

 

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Communicating Your Strategy

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.  – Leonardo da Vinci

Congratulations. You have made it through the annual strategic planning process. There were few casualties. There was great participation from several constituencies. Clear intents have been identified with supporting measurable goals and initiatives to achieve them. You feel that you might even get broad executive acceptance in a relatively short amount of time. Life is good.

Or is it.

The reality of the situation is that a very hard part is still ahead of you. Until you are able to distill the resulting strategy into a clear and concise set of messages that can rally people around the future, motivate them to take action, and self direct their behavior to support the strategic vision, my guess is that all you have is a lot of hard work driven by good intentions.

This is not easy. This can feel crippling when the distillation seems to bring out contradictions and challenge the thinking that you thought you had already covered. But it is necessary. The distillation will create clarity – and the clarity will drive understanding.

I am a huge believer in communicating the entire message on a single page. Sometimes the page needs to expand to accommodate the message, but so be it. The primary advantage of a single page is that your eyes can capture the full story in one holistic message. The more involved or complex the message the more you will want to dwell on it, digest it if you will. To do this effectively, you cannot be context changing as you flip pages. You need to let your mind direct your eyes to the next part of the story that it is ready for. You need to internally draw the connections between different parts of your message as you take it all in.

Getting everything on a single page also is a great means to drive not only clarity but understanding, acceptance, agreement, and ultimately action. Walking anyone (at any level of the organization) through a storyline described in a single page is usually a highly engaging activity. Messages are easily communicated, probing questions are asked and answered, penetrating discussions can and will take place. People will know why they will be taking a course of action and if that course is particularly challenging, they can a muster the energy necessary to do so.

Supporting detail can and should be available should it be necessary, but it will typically be for reference not part of your core messaging. The days of the multi-volume strategy document are hopefully well behind us. May it rest in peace.

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The “How” of Your Strategy

[caption id="attachment_1149" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Action Plan"][/caption]

Get action. Seize the moment. Man was never intended to become an oyster. — Franklin Roosevelt

After you have finished with defining strategic intents of your organization, defined the goals you are going to reach, established the operating principles to define your key positions, and values you will work by, you come to where the rubber meets the road – defining how you get all of this done.

The good news is that if you have completed all the items listed above, you will have completed the most difficult of the work. The above list of essential activities will have provided you with a large number of goals to reach will allow you to put your thinking cap in to put together an action plan of how to reach these goals. Defining operating principles will allow you to take a position on many points, again opening up critical action plans to develop. Clarifying your values will also define actions you want to take.

With a little thought, framing these action plans as initiatives large enough to garner executive attention with direct linkage to strategic intents or enablement of those intents can be achieved. Because your goals will have timeframes associated with them, the action plan to meet the goals will fit within these timeframes. No need to stay within a quarter or year, as your timetable will be set by how you define each of your goals.

What is important to realize with this is that you will have immediately placed guard rails  around your actions and kept yourself within the bounds of what is of highest priority to execute against. An extremely valuable constraint to place upon yourself. Each of these initiatives need to have basic high level attributes assigned (criticality, rough size, drop dead dates, etc) to gain a degree of perspective.

By the way, you will not have enough time, money, or bandwidth to execute all the most important initiatives you need to execute to meet your goals. You will need to triage across the portfolio of initiatives to the “critical few.” How many will be up to you, your budget, your resources, your ability to bring in external help, the ability leverage the critical resources you need.

Presto you now have a strategy.

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