Why do we need “IT”?

In today’s world we cannot imagine our day to day lives without technology. This reaches from our personal to our professional experienxce. At a given point, I posed myself the question ;

“What business benefit does IT bring to the table?”

We have sales that makes sure prospects become customers and make sure that they stay wit us. Production creates the product, supply chain optimizes the processes between vendors, … and so on.

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After pondering about it, I came to the conclusion that there are two benefits ;

Acceleration
Some call it “Time to market”, others say “Speed of exection”, … But feel free to name it any way you want. In essence the ability to change quickly is where IT needs to prevail. If IT becomes a bottleneck for the organization, the it has lost its main function. And here we see one of the basic aspects why some IT departements are losing the fight for budget. If you are a bottleneck for the company, why should it invest in “you”?

Scalabiliy
IT prevails in automation and automation wins when an economy of scale is at hand. When a company is expanding their operations, then IT will be there to make sure that the costs do not grow exponentially. That is why IT is more native to enterprises and still a bit akward to small business owners.

Insight on “Gartner 2013 : Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends”

Source : Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2013

Gartner released their Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends of 2013. Here’s my insight on the relation / impact towards the Benelux market.

Mobile Device Battles
This battle will continue! Where it used to be Apple versus Google… We now see Microsoft coming up with a competitive offering. Here my opinion is that the true battle for the Benelux enterprise market lies between Apple and Microsoft.

Mobile Applications and HTML5
When one takes a look at the “App Stores”, “App Markets”, etc… You’ll notice that most “apps” are mostly frameworks to connect to back-end web services. This way the providers can reuse a lot of their logic for different clients. So I totally follow the vision of Gartner that web interfaces with a low technology impact on the client will be the way of the future.

Personal Cloud
Not sure about this one… People are still very reluctant to bearing costs. Yet the cloud needs to get financed. So where the need is there, I don’t think the wallet will follow.

Enterprise App Stores
Before we get here… I would hope that companies get thinking about a service catalog. That way they would not blindly follow technology, and get things aligned between IT and business.

The Internet of Things
Everything connected! Every device is getting some kind of connectivity towards the network. So I totally follow this vision from Gartner.

Hybrid IT and Cloud Computing
Next year (2013) will be a very harsh year for a lot of companies within the Benelux. Many vendors are repeating (and repeating) the “Cloud”-mantra to a lot of customers/prospects. Time and time again they say that “THE cloud” will reduce the costs of the IT organization. Yet the reality is far from it! Cloud service have a lot of benefits, yet reducing costs is mostly not one of them. Adding functionality is more the thing, yet reducing costs can only be done by reducing services/functionality. In my honest opinion, the only way organizations can reduce costs it to identify (and catalog!) their services. This list can become an argumentation internally in order to justify the IT costs and become a possible starting point to discussed (un)needed services.

Strategic Big Data
I think this is valid for the “Fortune 500”, yet the Benelux market is far too small for this. Some niche players may have a specific need for this (telecom, banking, … marketing agencies), yet most industry / service companies can surely do without.

Actionable Analytics
Analytics is the way to go if you want to optimize your business! Whether it’s an internal department looking to optimize its costs, or the general business looking to go “lean & mean”… How can one optimize, if one does not know how things are running? You cannot compare things without having a monitoring system.

In Memory Computing
This sounds too much like the “noSQL”-movement from last year. Whilst it sounds very nice, most Belgian companies are way too traditional for such technologies. This is mostly due to the fact that no transactional state can be guaranteed…

Integrated Ecosystems
Many companies are noticing that the cloud solutions they have engaged in are islands on their own. Identity management and federation services will move towards this need… Such systems will be able to integrate several islands into one logical system for the user. This as the 5+ passwords to remember are getting a bit too much.

Why IT shouldn’t be run as a business…

Need an out-of-the-box opinion on running it? Check “Infoworld’s Run IT as a business — why that’s a train wreck waiting to happen”…

Intro

“If you board the wrong train, it’s no use running along the corridor in the other direction,” said famed World War II German resistance fighter Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We in IT boarded the wrong train a long time ago. It’s the “standard model” of information technology organizations — the familiar litany that says CIOs should run IT as a business [1], meeting the requirements of its internal customers. This refrain has been endorsed by our holy trinity, too: analyst firms, most consultancies, and ITIL.

Some strong quotes

  • There are no IT projects : He likens IT’s proper role to that of an engineer designing a car. “It doesn’t matter if the ‘customer’ asks for the horn on the backseat. Placing it there would meet the specs and ‘satisfy requirements.’ It would also defeat the usability of the horn, render driving the car dangerous, and could lead to a crash that ruins the whole effort.
  • Chargebacks? No! Governance… : Chargebacks are an attempt to use market forces to regulate the supply and demand for IT services. If that’s the best a business can do, it means the business has no strategy, no plans, and no intentional way to turn ideas into action.
  • So what should we do? : Nobody in IT should ever say, “You’re my customer and my job is to make sure you’re satisfied,” or ask, “What do you want me to do?” Instead, they should say, “My job is to help you and the company succeed,” followed by “Show me how you do things now,” and “Let’s figure out a better way of getting this done.”

John Perez’s Top 25 OSS alternatives to enterprise apps

2009 Budgets are in and for many who oversee the Operations and IT Budget, you are probably challenged to reduce your capital budget by at least 40% lower than what you originally put in. As the pressure to cut continues, you may want to rethink about the software vendors you have selected to introduce into the Enterprise, or even think about replacing your legacy Enterprise applications with more cost effective open source alternatives.

Out of his 25 apps, I must say that we’re using about 5… 😉 Despite being an OSS believer, be aware that these solutions just shift costs from the cost center “license” to “payroll” and that every integration creates a “lockin”… Do OSS because you believe in the “Open” aspect or where you don’t want to go for enterprise grade support!

Neurological Levels : Understanding the root for change

In short
The neurological levels are very useful for understanding change from an individual, social or organization point of view. They were proposed by anthropologist Gregory Bateson (1972, 1979). He defined a hierarchy of abstraction including beliefs, values and identity. He perceived relationships as having a higher abstraction than identity, and therefore influencing lower levels in the hierarchy, such as beliefs and behavior.

Six Logical Levels

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Welcome to Enterprise 2.0, embrace it!

Let’s talk about “Enterprise 2.0“.

The way we work is changing rapidly, offering an enormous competitive advantage to those who embrace the new tools that enable contextual, agile and simplified information exchange and collaboration to distributed workforces and networks of partners and customers.

Enterprise 2.0 is the term for the technologies and business practices that liberate the workforce from the constraints of legacy communication and productivity tools like email. It provides business managers with access to the right information at the right time through a web of inter-connected applications, services and devices. Enterprise 2.0 makes accessible the collective intelligence of many, translating to a huge competitive advantage in the form of increased innovation, productivity and agility.

Enterprise 2.0 Cartoon

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IT Strategy : Following -> Enabling -> Leading

Let’s talk a bit about IT strategy. Most IT departments still have the idea that they live isolated from the business. If that would be so, how would all those IT people get paid ad the end of the month? Indeed, by the business they are supporting! IT has a supporting function within the business.

ChessThe roles of IT
There are three roles IT should (try to) position itself:

  • Following : Reacting but delivering consistently
  • Enabling : Predicting, resourcing priorities, delivering
  • Leading : Aligned, experienced, leading thinking and planning

Which role does your departement currently furfil? Before you answer, note that probably 85% of the IT departments don’t even manage to be “Following”.

Continue reading “IT Strategy : Following -> Enabling -> Leading”