A ‘Nexus of Forces’ sweeping through the enterprise world; ignoring this trend would be at organizations' own peril
CIOs need to innovate and get out of maintenance mode; to focus on harnessing information in order to live up to chief information position
A NUMBER of new trends in information and communication technology (ICT) have emerged in the past year and enterprises that do not realize these shifts risk losing out on innovation and profitability, with some even possibly staring at the end of the road their businesses, warns research firm Gartner.
These trends involved four big themes and are classified as cloud computing, mobility, social and information analytics, said Linda Price (pic), group vice president of Gartner Executive Programs.
Gartner Executive Programs equips CIOs and senior IT executives with the tools and insights they need to deliver business results for their organizations and develop themselves as successful business leaders.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday (Sept 11), Price said these four themes, collectively referred to by Gartner as the “Nexus of Forces,” are highly interlinked together and companies that choose to ignore them do so at their own peril.
Noting that the social dimension in the Nexus of Forces is changing the world in terms of how professionals are engaging with each other at work for example, Price said that organizations today realize how their reputations in social media are critical to their businesses.
“They’re using social media for brand building, for promotions, for sales, and people [employees] want to use social media in the work environment,” she explained.
“Mobile is the delivery mechanism for how all this will happen and cloud is the platform that enables the scalability and flexibility. And information analytics is driving a whole change in businesses.”
Price also noted that these Nexus of Forces are combining to create a lot of complexity in the world, but [at the same time] companies need to keep it simple as the complexity to manage these forces builds.
She added that companies not prepared for this shift in trends end up with a very ad-hoc, hodge-podge approach to dealing with the Nexus of Forces.
“This is such a powerful driver for architecture within the new organization that people must take a strategic approach,” she said. “It’s not something that a company can suddenly just realize that it has taken a wrong turn three years back and now, it’s time to fix the problems while its competitors are racing forward.”
CIOs' role changing
Underpinning the concept of the Nexus of Forces is how the roles of CIOs are changing, noted Dale Kutnick, senior vice president of Gartner Executive Programs
Kutnick (pic) noted that historically speaking, the IT industry has gone through many different innovation cycles, all of which have differently defined roles for the CIO or head of IT.
In the early 1970s, IT heads were effectively just data processing and programming managers, who then progressed to become system integration managers in the 1980s, he said.
“As enterprise resource planning (ERP) software became mainstream in companies in the 1990s, IT heads or what is known as CIOs today, became merely ‘babysitters’ of ERP, effectively installing, maintaining and upgrading their systems.
“They have spent 70% of the time operating and maintaining SAP or Oracle for the past 10 years, and today while things have improved, they are still spending about 50% of the time worrying about keeping the light on.”
Not wanting to downplay the role of ERP in business, Kutnick stressed that while ERP is still important today, companies are simply not differentiated merely by ERP.
“ERP is important as it provides information for a company to look backward,” he explained. “But the real change in IT is in the technology that employ ‘sensors’ that helps companies listen to market and customers in real-time.”
Noting that social networks are a great example of a technology that can be used to listen to customers, Kutnick said a lot of such data goes back to the cloud and the derived from such network platforms provides the information and intelligence for companies to act upon.
He said the best companies [in today’s world] are already beginning to do this in real time.
“These CIOs help companies decide what to invest in so that the company can harness the information. They help put in the sensors to collect the information on social network, help companies build the cloud and analytics platform that can process this information into intelligence.
Kutnick said this is the change in the CIO job as they are moving from being ‘babysitters’ of ERP to actually thinking about driving the business with information.
“Put simply, the CIO title finally, really means something, because they are finally stewards of the information. At the end of the day, they will be known as chief innovation officers, as they are a part of a team that drives businesses forward.”
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