In the February 26, 2011 edition of InformationWeek, Chris Murphy wrote a compelling article reinforcing the need for IT to move faster. He highlighted several CIOs and what they are doing to move more quickly. Examples included:
- Dropping project cycle time from six to three months based on analyzing project data and baselining techniques
- Developing data centers and software development models that work off of a common set of standards for everything (factory approach)
- Deploying a minimal set of functionality, e.g. iPod touch for POS, and then seeing what suggestions for new innovation are unveiled
- Adopting new delivery models such as Agile
When assessing whether or not IT moves too slowly, we could take a few positions.
1) We don’t move too slowly
2) I agree but I can’t do anything more
3) I agree and we are going to change
I’m sure there are more positions but for the sake of argument, I will ponder these three.
We don’t move too slowly
This perspective might be found in organizations where they aren’t in touch with the business they serve. It’s a very rare occasion when the business believes the pace of IT outstrips its need or there is too much investment in IT. In most cases, IT organizations have more to do than they have resources.
We move too slowly, but there’s nothing more we can do
I believe this is where most IT professionals sit, with the exception of senior IT leadership. I’m empathetic to how people likely feel in this situation. Teams are working hard to meet their commitments and resources are maxed out. Many first line managers feel that if they were to ask their team to do more, they would have rebellion or someone might snap. What’s a team to do? I’m frequently asked this question – stay tuned for my conclusion. My short answer is – this is the leadership challenge.
We move too slowly and we must change
This is likely to be a felt among some IT team members and a serious concern for senior IT leaders and across business constituents. Fundamentally, business and IT are accelerating and IT must adapt. What’s really happening? Infrastructure and applications are commoditizing and becoming easer to implement and run. We tend not to write code or customize systems – we configure them. In the past, it might take three months to get a server in place. Today, you can spin-up a virtual instance in minutes or go to the cloud. The consumerization of IT is also changing perspectives. You can start a small company for almost nothing and have better infrastructure than a large one. This is also evident in our mobile lives when you go to the App Store and “there’s an app for that” as the Apple commercial goes. The ability to make quantum improvements in ‘cheaper, faster, better’ is more important today.
What are we to do?
As IT professionals, we must first embrace the changes occurring around us and accept the need for speed. In reality, no one has enough time or resources to meet all of these challenges. However, we must learn to shift our thinking and adopt new ways of approaching problems. Other organizations have been able to do it, what made them special? Were these organizations more talented? No! The leadership challenge that I alluded to before is changing an organizations mindset to think differently and approach problems in a new and unique way.
What is Informatica IT doing?
We have a four-part strategy we are executing on to realize greater speed in our business:
1) Cloud First – our model is cloud/buy/build.
2) Data as a Service – data is the most important asset we have in our company. Our goal is to make timely, trusted, relevant data securely accessible to the right person at the right time, easily.
3) Virtualization of IT – creating “limitless” scale across all IT services
4) IP Development – standardizing on specific technologies and platforms, peaking our team with these skills and encouraging them to build new products on the technologies.
In a future blog, I will write in more detail about our strategy.