August 5, 2015

Navigating the Waves: Transitioning IT, Staffing and Satisfying Expectations

CIO Strategy Exchange, New York, 2012

What are the practical implications of the latest information technology wave as it’s prompted by business imperatives or retarded by corporate culture? The overarching strategic questions: How to satisfy management expectations and counter old and new competitors? How to fund and staff a transition to the new? After that, tactical issues: Can legacy software be harvested as applications evolve into modern environments? What are the most cost-effective and risk-conscious installations of cloud and SaaS infrastructures? What are the best uses of current tools like the agile method? To this end, we interview fifteen CIOSE members across a range of sectors including: automotive, banking, construction, insurance, manufacturing, petrochemicals, pharmaceutical, retail, and transport. The next chapters are organized around the following six topics, each a chapter, that mark the sharpest departure from prior assumptions and wisdom:

  1. Forcing Factors: CIOSE members are forced to respond to many exogenous factors: emerging technologies, changing competition, greater regulation, sudden CEO directives; most are random events. We’ll cover how all these factors impact legacy applications and encourage novel uses of SaaS, big data engines, and in-memory devices. Also refreshing in this context are CIO reappraisals of whether traditional outsourcing is sufficiently adaptable to these new challenges.
  2. Transformative Practices: Interactive and iterative applications development techniques are intrinsic to addressing current demands for accelerated cycle times, intuitive interfaces and conspicuously higher productivity. Those results can’t be achieved through the traditional “waterfall” development method.
  3. Staffing the Change: Success with SaaS, agile and mobile apps require reexaminations of team management techniques, personnel selection, and skills training. “A hundred of the best… not a thousand of the rest,” could be a universal rallying cry.
  4. Platforms: Clouds and SaaS are being widely used in our crowd with excellent results – despite justifiable worries about security and availability.
  5. Funding the Change: In many (not all) organizations, IT progress has been constrained for many years by near-static budgets. And it is further retarded when 70 percent of the total spend is allocated to maintenance and operations of legacy systems. That’s changing. Funds are being freed for new applications in important areas like analytics by lean development methods and virtualized (i.e. cheaper) infrastructures. And restless business unit leaders are funding important projects directly from their own capital budgets.
  6. Tectonic Shifts: The IT industry is undergoing one of its periodic upheavals in technologies and business models. We’ll close this CIOSE report by discussing directions of this change along with implications and likely outcomes. Our sources are several leading thinkers and movers from the industry.

Thanks to the many CIOSE members who participated with all their time, intensity, wisdom, and wealth of data. Once again, we could not have written this report without you.