Innovation, Technology, and Life in the Cloud

George Watt

IT: Where Great Ideas Go to Die

“BYOD isn’t coming, it’s here“- @SimonBramfitt via @thelaurenfiles

Recently I participated in a great Twitter conversation regarding how IT departments have gained a reputation as a place where good ideas go to die. Initially there were several volleys about how IT departments have become known as the “Office of the C-I-No“. Whether these are perceptions or reality does not matter. (They’re often real.) What was interesting was that our conversation quickly morphed into a discussion of consumer driven IT (CDIT) and “bring your own device” (BYOD); the latest in the list of things that are both challenging IT organizations and, unfortunately, adding fuel to those negative perceptions.

And then it happened…

C-I-Rogue

While we were trading volleys regarding the opportunities presented by BYOD a participant tweeted:

CINo-tweet

This illustrates what is perhaps the most compelling reason for IT teams and CIOs to pay attention to this trend. It cannot be ignored. It cannot be wished away. And erecting a wall in the name of security (“just say no”) won’t always make things more secure. In fact, that approach often has the opposite effect.

People understand the value and power of consumer technologies, and technology is no longer the sole domain of the “techo”. Someone recently told me that some of the businesspeople they work with now are “more technical” than some of the programmers they worked with a decade ago. If they need to accomplish something in order to meet their business objectives they will figure it out; and they may not always do so in the best of ways.

Déjà vu

This is not a new phenomenon. When wireless networks became affordable for personal use, many connected inexpensive access points to their corporate networks; and in so doing they created unsecure connections to those networks. And today there are lot more people, with a lot more devices, and a lot more knowledge, than there have ever been with previous technology waves.

“Turn and Face the Strain” – David Bowie

Though IT teams were, with good reason, initially reluctant to embrace consumer driven IT, the tide appears to be shifting. We must also keep in mind that this creates tremendous opportunity.

At a recent consumer driven IT event, Coca-Cola CTO Tom Place stated they see consumer driven IT as a welcome change and an opportunity for competitive advantage. I agree. And those who win will be those who: face it head on; identify opportunities for competitive advantage; find the “low hanging fruit”; and leverage their existing expertise in security, resilience, and performance to create a safe, robust, and compelling user experience.

How is your organization dealing with consumer driven IT and BYOD? I would be grateful for your comments.

Photo of landing aircraft courtesy of stock.xchng.

This blog is cross-posted at Perspectives.

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2 comments on “IT: Where Great Ideas Go to Die

  1. James Bryce Clark (@JamieXML)
    February 29, 2012

    George, good points, but your “rogue” concept still leaves that CIO with a job: to make sure that the enterprise’s policies are being honored. On stuff like: “If we release XYZ private data into the wild, we go to jail.”

    Wishing for more iPads or Dick Tracy wristwatches does not make that liability go away. It’s possible, but more expensive, for CIOs to stay ahead of desired tools, by a bias in favor of taking steps to enable their use on a conforming, non-dangerous basis.

    There’s some work on standardized, automatable policy application and enforcement, on the wire, which gives me some long-term hope there.

    In the meantime: Does the company want to pay that increment of expense for flexibility, or not? Or would we rather limit ourselves to COBOL, so to speak, because the guys we have on staff know COBOL?. That’s a cost issue, and a risk tradeoff. Managements are supposed to be able to weigh costs and risks.

    • @GeorgeDWatt
      February 29, 2012

      Thank you, James.

      Yes, this is absolutely something CIOs and IT leaders must address head on. A passive-agressive approach is not the answer, and it cannot be “wished away”. I also agree that assessing the threat-risk-cost-benefit-opportunity is necessary.

      I believe additional opportunities may be discovered, and gains realized, if leaders think also about these things from an investment perspective (in addition to viewing them from a cost or expense perspective). Opportunities positioned in that context may even have a better chance of resonating with those who can fund the initiatives.

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This entry was posted on February 21, 2012 by in Mobility, Social Media/CDIT and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

About

This site contains articles regarding the practical aspects of deploying, providing, managing, and using cloud computing technologies; though much of the information is applicable to most information technologies. I also share my thoughts and experiences related to innovation, consumer driven IT, social media, management issues, and about what some refer to as “soft skills”.

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