Saturday, July 6, 2013

CIO as Chief ‘Instrument’ Officer: How to Embrace Consumerization of IT

It’s the nature transformation from rigid IT to flexible business enabler.

The speed of consumerization of IT has been increased today, it blurs the line between enterprise IT and personal IT; it blurs working life and personal life; the workforce today is hyper-connected with multi-devices, they can work anytime, anywhere to access the right information to make the right decision, what should be CIO’s attitude upon it? Act as a controller to maintain the old IT status quo, or play as a Chief ‘Instrument Officer” to embrace and orchestrate the change?

It’s the nature transformation from rigid IT to flexible business enabler: Consumerization of IT is indeed a headache, but it presents an opportunity for IT to speed up the move toward being a proactive, service provider to their organization. IT can enable the new way, rather than be the "no, you can't do that, because I won't let you" department. Of course, this will not be an easy transition, as going from a rigid, controlling IT department to a flexible IT department will require staff who are 'down' for this shift, and who understand the long-term benefits to the department, and organization. 

IT needs to become more proactive functions like Dev/ops and App/ops: The whole move towards non-monolithic applications has already happened. Enterprise IT needs to adopt both new technologies and behaviors to keep up. "IT" isn't just a back-end operational role anymore but encompassing more proactive functions like Dev / ops and App/ ops. As we transition to a more "social enterprise", the new technologies for mobile access, security, and collaboration will be paramount. One of the biggest impacts from the consumerization of IT is in setting a new standard for what business expect from IT.

The culture of the organization may be geopolitically unprepared to address this paradigm-like shift: The transformation would not be easy, and more importantly, a big piece of this puzzle seems to be how users themselves identify their role as consumers of IT. The role has traditionally been passive, with IT in the driver's seat, but now users have the opportunity to be more proactive in terms of how they want to consume their IT. However, this puts some responsibility on the users as well, especially in terms of security practices. From industry surveys, users aren't really embracing this aspect of their new IT freedom and ignore most security best practices, therefore, ‘App Sprawl” turns to be a buzzword. In this regard, it is critical for IT department not just to say no but to explain and ensure employees understand the implications this would have on the business.

Improve Productivity is a noble business goal behind the consumerization of IT: If the technology being developed will increase and improve productivity in the workplace, this is as a snowballing trend that will be adopted by many different kinds of industries. The transition will not be easy for employees or their IT managers, but with the right strategy in place, it will ultimately benefit organizations and deliver ROI. Obviously, there will be security and BYOD concerns, questions as to which corporate app is best or most useful. Technologies with optimal combination of cost, convenience and learning curve are catching on extremely fast.
IT is always asking to be recognized as a strategic business enabler and now that it actually has an opportunity to be the one: There is a lot of risk and planning required for embracing the "Consumerization of IT”, particularly because most IT organizations are so embedded in the traditional IT support model. But necessity is the mother of invention,” the opportunities are endless for the creative thinkers which are what IT professionals have always been known for. Now when the opportunity is hitting IT in the face, are there too much resistance from IT towards change?

There are two structures IT need to instrument: The existing back end traditional enterprise IT services and now the new consumerized, cloud, mobile, inventive IT. The later does need to be done in a thoughtful, responsible way but don’t make that a barrier to getting it done. Rather, it should be perceived as an amazing opportunity to utilize and optimize processes and risk management skills to achieve something the users actually want without compromising data privacy/ security. There's a lot to be learned from the consumerization of IT. The biggest piece is not on the device side but on the application side.

Broadly speaking, it’s time to define 21st century IT: These trends then gave rise to corporate structures, work processes, management style. Since IT no longer controls access to computing power, the focus needs to shift to information - the "I" in the CIO title- CIOs need to give users the knowledge and tools to make their own decisions and the room to make some mistakes. Whether the motivation derives from personal preferences or pursuit of actual business advantages, often multiple tools are available that are effective for a task or process.

The “I” in CIO title does mean about instrumenting the heterogeneous IT architecture and proliferation of multi-devices, and really emphasize the need (or opportunity) for IT to better position itself as a service provider to the business or better match the needs of the business, to reach the higher mature level as integral part of business.


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