Does IT still stand for ‘Information Technology’?”

We are facing a series of technology disruptions in IT and I mean the usual suspects of Big Data, Enterprise Mobility, Software Defined Networking and autonomous systems.

These developments are driven by technology vendors – the Googles, Facebooks of this world as well as several product vendors, e.g. Apple. And they go hand-in-hand with disruptions in business models which – in case they succeed – fuel further technology developments by the sheer amounts of capital.

I see many opportunities going along with disruptive technologies, but something really worries me in this environment: the knowledge gap between the internal IT departments of large corporations (managing Foundation IT as a support function with a focus on Stability and Cost) and the Business Units (using State of the Art IT to change business models to stay competitive) is growing faster every quarter – to a degree that the IT function becomes a technology free management function of a cost item.

Several other trends are fertilizing it further:

  • Bring Your Own concepts reduce the value add of internal IT further as the integration between workplace back-end and user equipment goes away.
  • The degree of outsourcing increases – leaving technology issues to external companies (as it is a support function, not core business).
  • Even Service Management (and the still technology related Integration) becomes outsourced. (See We are SIAMese).

Not true, you think? Well let me ask a couple of questions then:

  • Can you explain Hadoop and the fundamental difference Hadoop makes in terms of data analytics?
  • Do you have a team of applied mathematician on your payroll that you assign to tackle optimization problems? Or at least: do you have a staffing road map to get them?
  • Are you reworking your application landscape to make them aware of a „User’s Context“ (Social, Location, Mobility) to increase productivity further along the lines of a Google type of application approach?

In many cases, answers given by internal IT teams will be „no“ and so it is obvious that truly relevant initiatives to increase the competitiveness of companies such as Industry 4.0, use of Big Data to optimize resource usage by using maths (shocking!) etc. stay with the business units

Internal IT as the service level and procurement managers for stability focused foundation IT are losing technology ground and does not get invited to play in the business sandbox anymore.

In a defiant attempt to fight back this development, internal IT goes for SAP HANA: Finally a way to talk about in-memory computing and big data without leaving traditional think patterns, what a relief!
Not clear what we will exactly do with it, but it is in-memory and big and at least our management reporting dashboards will update faster.

I see the danger that the CIO function diminishes to a better real estate function on IT assets. If this is an articulated strategy – fair enough. But release me please from reading IT department vision and mission statements about the ambition to become the trusted technology adviser for business units.

If it is not an articulated strategy, but you agree that this happens – it’s probably time to have a dialogue about change, re-positioning – and finally information technology.