Why is there such an emphasis on the need for IT transformation? 

Think about it.  If everything was poking along at a glacial pace and everyone was satisfied with the results they are achieving through IT, then there likely would not be such a hue and cry for IT to undergo radical changes.

But that is obviously not the case.  Social, mobile, cloud, and big data analytics are combining to create what some have called the perfect storm for disruptive innovation (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Mack Institute for Innovation Management).  

In his book, Here Comes Everybody (p. 160), author and NYU professor Clay Shirky wrote, “Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies – it happens when society adopts new behaviors.”  Is there any doubt that social and mobile technologies are driving new societal behaviors?  And these new behaviors are having a huge effect on many elements of our businesses – marketing, sales, product development, customer service, and yes, even IT.

Think about the effect that technology is having on newspapers, books, music, branch banking, cameras, GPS devices, etc.  These and many more are being profoundly impacted through smartphones and tablets.  Think about the effect of BYOD on the enterprise.  Employees are clamoring for the ability to bring their own apps.  Applications like TrackVia advertise as the “Application Builder for Business People…ZERO Programming.”  Or if you need something a little more custom, crowdsource it at places like TopCoder which promises to develop mobile apps to enterprise systems without the need to contract or hire anyone.  Or go find a SaaS application that fits your need and simply pay as you go each month using your credit card.  No muss…no fuss… no large capital expense or lengthy development time.

Jim Stikeleather writes about a research study on how the role of the CIO and IT is changing (The IT Conversation We Should Be Having, HBR Blog Network, 4/25/13).  In short, the study found that CEOs believe that CIOs are not in sync with the new issues CEOs are facing.  In addition, CEOs feel that CIOs do not understand where the business needs to go and do not have a strategy truly supportive of the business.  More specifically, almost half of CEOs feel IT should be a commodity service purchased as needed and do not feel that their CIO understands the business nor how to apply IT in new ways to the business.

Stikeleather goes on to cite trends that are affecting the fundamentals of business – and thus IT.  Prevalent among those trends is that the basic ideas of capitalism–return on investment (ROI) and return on assets (ROA)–are being challenged.  He writes:  “Many of these ideas shun ownership for rent on those elements of the enterprise not tied directly to value creation, suggesting a rethink in how IT is delivered.”  What does that say to you about the future of SaaS,  IaaS, PaaS and ItaaS?

Changes in the fundamentals of business, new societal behaviors, and rapid technology advances – talk about a perfect storm!  And in many ways, IT is in its eye.  There is a huge opportunity here!  It will take speed, agility, flexibility, leadership and courage. 

So let’s hear from you.  How are these changes affecting your company?  What actions must IT take to be the beacon in the storm — to help companies weather the storm and thrive?  What are you doing to meet the challenge? 

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