September 11, 2015 Leave a comment
I’ve been taking a close look at what’s over the enterprise horizon for much of the year as the pace of technology change continues to accelerate, as most experts have long predicated and which will only continue. New platforms, technologies, product, services, and models are appearing at a constant pace these days. Many topics that are hot today were barely on anyone’s radar a short while ago, from the blockchain and holacracy, to social performance management and trimodal IT, to name four of a great many important topics that have been significant recently.
The result is, if you’re not currently dedicating a significant amount of time in some part of your organization researching what’s happening, the digital world is almost certainly leaving you behind. In fact, as I’ve been making the point recently, our traditional methods for adapting to and absorbing new technology are breaking down in the face of the torrent of digital innovation our organizations are currently experiencing. In short, we need new models and effective strategies for technology adaptation, and the good news is that some workable approaches are now emerging, discovered and proven in recent years new through bold experiments by IT and business leaders in the field. Even though cultture and practices are likely to be the biggest obstacle, as Isaac Sackolick recently observed, we still need new processes that span IT and business that can greatly accelerate our ability to adapt to the marketplace.
Tracking Digital/Social Innovations with Business Impact
But, as we’re sorting out how we should strategically manage our technology portfolios today, we still need to keep a close eye on the stream of what’s happening in digital and social, making sure key developments are on our evaluation and adoption plans as appropriate. To that end, I’ll be taking my latest survey of high impact new digital technologies likely to offer significant advantage to the enterprise in the very near future for my upcoming session at Dreamforce 2015 next week in San Francisco.
One thing is sure however: Digital transformation must take place hand-in hand with human transformation. So I’ve broken the list down into those two swimlanes, as we have to both change our technology landscape and ourselves into order to more successfully adapt. I’ve also included three verticals that I believe are experiencing particular disruption/renewal due to recent digital advances.
|Technology Dimension||Human Dimension||Digital|
|Digital Assistants||Citizen Developer|
|Robotic Process Automation||Work Hacking|
|Mind/Machine Interfaces||Networks of Excellence + Change Agents|
|Virtual Reality Platforms||Trimodal+ IT|
|Low Code Platforms||Digital Management Models|
|Applied Machine Learning||New Digital Career Tracks|
|AI-Based Social Analytics||SocBizOps|
|Community Management-as-a-Service||Social HR and Sales|
|Social Aggregation 2.0 (Apps/SNS Silos)||Swarm Intelligence, Working|
|Social Payments||Social Performance Management|
|Legacy IT Approach||Next-Gen IT Approach|
|Impose tech decisions as faits accomplis||Pro-actively collaborate on tech decisions|
|Lead all technology efforts||Support tech leadership across the company|
|Sole source technology provider||Confidently compete as a service provider|
|Hold stakeholders at arm’s length||Collaborate with stakeholders on their turf|
|Wait for change champions to approach||Actively seek out change champions|
|Occasionally listen to change champions||Actively supply change champions with resources|
|Constrain IT to strict standards||Enable local innovation within bright lines|
|Chokepoint for IT realization||Coach and ombudsman for decentralized IT realization|
|Service delivery||Learning and change delivery|
|Strategic initiatives, Center of Excellence||Network of Excellence|
|Single or Bi-Modal||Tri-Modal and beyond|
|Waterfall, ALM||Agile, DevOps|
Here are other essential stories of CIOs realizing IT in new, more decentralized, collaborative, and bottom-up ways:
- AstraZeneca. CIO David Smoley remade IT at the pharmaceutical giant to be a learning and collaborative organization focused on the customer and technical leadership, he recommends, “that, in addition to embracing technology, they better understand the business, focus on behavior, be bold, and build their networks. People rely less on curated information, he explained, and more on networking and learning what other businesses are doing.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The incoming CIO Brook Coangelo had to rebuild the entire IT brand from the ground up. Central to this was including internal customers closely in the process of technology change, often taking their lead, using an internal culture he calls Nimble.
- Etisalat. Francisco Salcedo, senior vice president of Digital Services, at the telecommunications firm reports they have begun to “provide IT services within the organisation in new ways as opposed to traditional methods, and become a business growth enabler, rather than a bottleneck.” Key to this process: “Focus on adding value to the business, while leveraging IT expertise of partners to support business experts in generating new revenue streamlines.”
- IBM. New IBM CIO Jeff Smith says that for him, “clarity is more important than certainty, course correction is more important than perfection, self-directed teams work better than command and control, and innovation is for everyone, not just the select few.” How does he enable next-gen IT? One key way: Smith created an internal Kickstarter-like crowdsourcing platform called ifundIT. With it, anyone can formulate a project or problem that needs to be solved, and raise internal funding to get it accomplish. I think this is a terrific example of how to use internal networks — social and otherwise — to rapidly engage, then actively enlist, change champions and supporters.
All of this certainly represents considerable and difficult changes for many IT organizations, yet the benefits are clear: A rate of internal change that more properly matches today’s operating environment. But there will be bumps, as with what Tony Hsieh has dealt with at Zappos in fundamentally remaking the organization into a holacracy — a somewhat comparable change to what is described here, but org-wide, well beyond technology — some creative destruction is almost inevitable.
However, as with almost everything with technology change and transformation, the CIO has an absolutely key role to play today, and can be a leader or a follower as the business has to move now and seize opportunity in today’s challenging markets. As Adobe CIO Gerri Flickinger recently said, we are entering a new golden age of IT, if you’re ready to move to the next level.