New CIO Role: Eight Ways to be a Chief Integration Officer

The confluence of disruptive business models, emerging technologies (cloud computing, IoT, wearables) and the consumerization of IT has dramatically redefined the role of the CIO. While there’s no question the CIO’s job description is evolving (a Google search for “changing role of the CIO”–in quotes–yields more than 30,000 results), there’s no clear consensus on exactly what that means.

The CIO as Chief Integration OfficerBut a recent research report from Deloitte and accompanying summary suggest a new twist on the title: the CIO as “chief integration officer.” In this role, the CIO “integrates” technology, ideas, and processes across business functions to drive innovation and improve business performance.

The full report is well worth investigating, though it runs to 150 pages; the summary is an informative, quicker read. Continue reading “New CIO Role: Eight Ways to be a Chief Integration Officer”

Looking Back: The Top 20 at 200

As the Kinetic Vision blog approaches another significant milestone, its 200th post, here’s a look back at the top 20 most-read posts since the blog’s launch in March of 2011.

Not surprisingly, the phrases that occur most frequently in the posts below indicate readers are most interested in industry research about request management (that’s what we do), its applications (service catalogs, employee onboarding, BYOD) and its benefits (cost savings, process automation, risk management).

Request management blog posts: - top 20 at 200It’s also not surprising many of these are “evergreen” posts; these are articles with a long “shelf life” that continue to draw significant numbers of views month after month. The most-read post so far in 2015 (How IT Will Change by 2020 – Research From HDI) narrowly missed the list below, coming in at #23 all-time.

Here then are the top 20:

Continue reading “Looking Back: The Top 20 at 200”

Six Vital BYOD Stats – And The Bigger Productivity Picture

Most organizations have now adopted BYOD policies, permitting or encouraging employees to use their personal computing and communications devices at work. Though the embrace of BYOD varies—small companies are more likely to adopt BYOD than large enterprises, tech companies more than government, U.S. firms more than those in Europe—a clear majority of respondents in a recent survey by Tech Pro Research “say that their organization is using or planning to use BYOD.”

BYOD stats and impact on productivityIt is easy to see why employees want to use their own devices, with reasons ranging from familiarity to freedom. Meanwhile, employers often see the shift (despite additional security measures required) as a way to save money. And research compiled by BMC Software indicates BYOD users work longer hours. But do BYOD policies ultimately improve productivity?

Continue reading “Six Vital BYOD Stats – And The Bigger Productivity Picture”

Three Practical Strategies for CIOs in the Digital Enterprise

The tsunami of change washing over the landscape for CIOs can perhaps best be summed up by the phrase “digital enterprise”—a catchall term encompassing the fundamental redesign of business processes to adapt to big data, the Internet of Things, the consumerization of IT, cloud computing, and other developments.

CIO strategies for the digital enterpriseThe movement is nearly universal: in a recent Altimeter Group survey, 88 percent of “digital strategy executives interviewed said their organizations are undergoing formal digital transformation efforts this year.”

And there is no shortage of opinion about how this is reshaping and expanding the responsibilities of CIOs: a Google search for “CIO role digital enterprise” yields more than 920,000 results.

Continue reading “Three Practical Strategies for CIOs in the Digital Enterprise”

Cloud Computing and Legacy Applications: Why an Evolutionary Approach Works Best

While change is a constant in IT,  there’s no question that the technology developments of the past couple of years and what’s in store for the coming year are…different. The confluence of cloud computing, BYOD, consumerization, shadow IT, low-code platforms, the Internet of Things (IoT), and big data, among other trends, is creating challenges that are bigger, faster, and more disruptive than ever before.

Mainframes remain vital in the cloud computing era
Image credit: Enterprise Tech

In IT Leadership 2.0: Transform Yourself or Fade Away on CIO Insight, Frank Wander writes:

“A giant wave is crashing over IT as we know it. Our industry is one where waves regularly come and go, each one pushing something we held precious into the past. We have come to understand that technologies have a limited life span. It is an accepted notion in our industry. But this current wave is different—it is a tsunami, and IT leaders are in danger of being swept away.”

Continue reading “Cloud Computing and Legacy Applications: Why an Evolutionary Approach Works Best”

Six Key Takeaways from the HDI – itSMF USA Service Management Report

IT service management (ITSM) principles are being embraced in shared service functions (HR, finance, facilities, etc.) in an increasing number of organizations. Whether applied within the enterprise or by service providers, ITSM tools and practices are helping to improve processes and reduce service costs. The results are better alignment between IT and business functions, faster service fulfillment, and happier end users.

ITSM isn't just for IT anymore Continue reading “Six Key Takeaways from the HDI – itSMF USA Service Management Report”

Four Ways CIOs Can Embrace Consumerization 2.0 and Help the Business

Consumerization is the most sweeping change in IT in the past 20 years. Millennial workers, who’ve grown up with mobile phones, social networks and ecommerce sites are bringing their personal technology to work—and not just asking IT to adapt, but increasingly working around it.

As Frank Palermo notes in his InformationWeek article, Hey CIOs, Stop Saying ‘No’ To Consumer Tech, “According to Gartner, in 2012-2013, 64% of enterprises said mobility projects forged ahead without the full involvement of IT.” Employees are bringing their own mobile devices to the office, storing company data with consumer online services like DropBox, and in some cases developing custom cloud-based apps, even in heavily regulated industries which have resisted these trends until recently.

How CIOs can embrace consumerization 2.0Of course, consumerization 2.0 and its manifestations do not mean the end of IT as a vital function. Recent high-profile data breaches such as those at Target and Home Depot serve as bracing reminders that it’s imperative to keep corporate data secure, and that requires management by IT professionals.

Contending that “Security and other new challenges arising from the consumerization movement mean that CIOs need to make sure that services are secured, tested, reliable, and integrated into the enterprise application stack,” Palermo outlines four best practices CIOs can use to “establish themselves as a formidable business partners, avoid shadow IT, and, most important, remain relevant.”

Design for mobile first. Considering that smartphones and tablets now account for more than half of all Internet access, that’s not a bad strategy. At the very least, mobile access should be taken into consideration in the early stages of designing any new business applications.

One valuable approach is to design what Forrester Research calls smart process apps, or SPAs. The technology advisory firm defines these as “a new category of business application software designed to support processes that are people-intensive, highly variable, loosely structured, and subject to frequent change. Smart process apps fill the gap between systems of record and systems of engagement by automating both structured and unstructured work activities in support of collaborative processes.”

By narrowing what is truly needed by your users due to the restrictions of screen size, application designers are forced to simplify what are often complex user experiences.  This simplicity is often what consumers crave and is seldom found in enterprise applications.   These core processes can then often be translated to desktop interfaces leading to a cleaner, more flexible approach.

Leverage the cloud. As noted here previously, “Business application developers working within large enterprises want to build applications in the cloud. But they would prefer to spend their time coding and testing, not managing cloud infrastructure.” Users, too, often favor cloud applications for functions like file storage, collaboration, and project management.

IT needs to provide users either with safe ways to utilize commercial services or with company-approved alternatives that protect vital data. Whether providing cloud services and applications to developers or users, IT can use an enterprise request management (ERM) approach to provide users with a single, intuitive portal through which they can compare and request those services and apps based on their capabilities, costs, and other information.

Protect and secure mobile devices. Interest in using personal mobile devices at work (BYOD) skyrocketed starting in late 2011. Many IT groups initially resisted this movement, but as remote management tools improved and the potential for cost savings became apparent—not to mention strong preferences on the part of employees to utilize their personal smartphones over company-supplied Blackberrys—they began working to accommodate these devices rather than shun them.

Though security concerns remain, the use of training and awareness-building, combined with improved tools for securing devices and their data, have increased business and IT acceptance of BYOD. Generally, organizations that have embraced BYOD have reduced their mobile access and hardware costs, improved flexibility, and make their employees happy.

Be social. Palermo recommends enterprises use internal social discussion tools such as Yammer “that invite all levels of the organization, without hierarchy, to exchange ideas or voice concerns.”

Facebook and Twitter aside, social capabilities can also be built into business tools and applications for functions such as discussing business metrics and collaboratively resolving enterprise-level problems.

Though consumerization adds challenges and complexity to the roles of the CIO and IT staff, it also provides new opportunities to respond to user needs and even proactively offer new capabilities that are an extension of cloud, mobile and social technologies.

Next Steps

 

Practical Ways to Bridge the Gap Between IT and The Business

Every successful enterprise, obviously, relies on a range of skillsets within the organization: strategic, financial, promotional, technical, managerial, inspirational, and interpersonal. But why is the “technical” component–IT groups in particular–so often criticized for being disconnected or out of sync with “the business”? In contrast, no one ever complains that their company’s accounting department is holding back the organization’s forward progress.

Mark Thiele, in the InformationWeek article Sync IT And Business Like A School Of Fish, writes:

How to bridge the gap between IT and the business“Keeping IT and business in sync is not a new goal — it’s been discussed for years…Even when the business removes political and functional barriers, there are serious limitations in how quickly and effectively IT can respond. The limitations of legacy IT relate to the difficulty of effecting change…The fact is, businesses have historically always acted faster than IT, and new digitally driven business models will only widen the chasm.”

His recommendation is an approach he terms “composable IT”–essentially, basing the delivery of operational capabilities “on services outside the enterprise datacenter” in order to more deftly adapt to  “mobility, cloud, SaaS, wearable tech, the Internet of Things,” and other emerging trends in this era of disruptive IT change.

The recommendations in this article are, for the most part, thoughtful and productive; particularly in terms of how training and incentive systems will need to change in order to accelerate adoption. But discussions of the “chasm” between IT and the business too often paint IT professionals as resistant to change, or even opposed to new business technologies.

That’s nonsense, of course. Everybody in business (that includes IT professionals) wants to be the hero: to exceed expectations, improve the bottom line, bring new capabilities to the enterprise, enhance productivity, reduce costs, and still be home in time for dinner.

Given the wave of new cloud-based and mobile capabilities washing over the business world, IT groups undeniably need to evolve practices to be more nimble and agile. But business leaders and users in other functional areas also need to understand that sometimes there are extremely valid reasons to wait, or at least proceed with caution, that are indeed in the best interests of “the business.”

Here are three practical ways to productively bridge the perceived gap between IT and other business functions, and move forward in ways that embrace change without discarding prudence.

Recognize the importance—to the business—of system and data security. As noted here previously, the attitude of IT groups in general toward the BYOD trend changed dramatically in just 24 months; in some companies, from forbidding the use of employees’ own devices for work to demanding it.

IT leaders weren’t wrong to be cautious of employees using their personal devices to access business systems back in 2011 when data security, anti-theft, data backup, and device management tools were weak or lacking, any more than they’ve been wrong to shift to a more embracing approach as those tools have matured (though somesecurity concerns remain).

Data security is a business concern, not just an IT worry. The average cost of a data breach is $3.5 million, and includes not just direct loss but also loss of customers (and customer confidence) and, in many cases, negative media coverage.

The challenge for IT leaders is to communicate the risks of poor data security in business terms. It’s not that the latest mobile business intelligence app isn’t really cool and useful, it’s that CIOs don’t want to risk millions of dollars and the company’s reputation on an untested and insecure connection to corporate data.

Don’t “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Without delving into the origins of that idiom, in this context it means: don’t presume it’s best to throw out those dusty old legacy applications and replace them all with cloud-based apps. In many mature enterprises, core legacy applications remain vital in storing customer and financial data and running fundamental business processes.

That said, applying intuitive, web-based, mobile-friendly systems of engagement to legacy management and control systems of record increases enterprise agility and flexibility, as well as the speed with which IT can respond to changes in the business, without the difficulty and risk of modifying core legacy application code.

Empower business users to create their own solutions (using approved tools). One example of this is in enterprise request management (ERM) rollouts; graphical mapping tools enable business process owners in any department (e.g., HR for PTO requests, facilities for conference room reservations) to design, test, optimize, and deploy their own workflow processes–with minimal IT assistance.

ERM represents, in many ways, the ideal approach to the new IT paradigm; give users information about the options, capabilities, and costs of different approaches to solving business problems, then enable them to choose from a (tested and approved) set of alternatives.

To respond to rapid change, in both business practices and technology, IT groups need to adopt approaches and processes that support speed and flexibility. As Thiele and other authors point out, some old beliefs and practices will need to be discarded. But prudence, maintaining a clear-eyed view of data security, and leveraging existing investments wherever possible will never become obsolete.

Next steps: