Friday, November 26, 2010

Gartner Urges Agile Business

As business leaders look for IT to drive business results, the time is now for CIOs and IT leaders to recognise new realities, apply new rules and drive their organisation forward to embrace these.

This is according to Gartner analysts speaking at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2010. Analysts told an audience of more than 7 000 IT leaders that businesses have different expectations for their CIO.

“This new type of CIO won't ask first what the implementation cost is, or whether something complies with the architecture, but whether it's good for the organisation,” said Hung LeHong, research vice-president at Gartner.

“They will train their teams to think like a business executive, asking first 'is this valuable?', and only then asking 'how can we make this work?' There will be people experimenting with new ideas, working with product development, marketing, public relations and the C-suite to come up with ways of delivering more value directly to the external customer.”

Gartner says the IT industry is at the start of a new era. For IT, the time to act is now, and how IT leaders' act will be shaped by realities of the new era; the power of choice, the Wide Open World and outcomes rather than outputs must be focused on.

New realities

“Business leaders now have the power of choice, and they will use it,” said Mark McDonald, group vice-president for executive programs at Gartner. “Choice is not just about cutting cost. Choice is about time to market. Choice is about capability, capacity, quality of service, and agility.”

In the Wild Open World, people leave a trail of what they've done online, leaving a rich body of information about their interests, intentions and activities. The data, much of it unstructured, contains nuggets of wisdom buried in various formats such as videos, podcasts, and blogs, the analysts said at the symposium.

In terms of outputs and outcomes, analysts pointed out that outputs are proxies for cost and risk. Gartner analysts say cost is important, but it is only one direction of a CIO's compass. In contrast, by focusing on outcomes, CIOs will also address value and innovation.

The symposium also brought social networking to the discussion. “Social network analysis – whether done manually by individual case workers, or on a more formalised basis using advanced analysis tools or services, can make a big difference,” said Andrea Di Maio, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Smart governance

Also noted were three new rules that will be constants into the new era. CIOs are urged to apply these rules to lead their business (not just the IT organisation) forward. These new rules include smart control, intelligent business and IT dynamism.

“CIOs and IT leaders must transform themselves from controllers to influencers; from implementers to advisers; from employees to partners,” said Eric Knipp, principal research analyst at Gartner. “You own this metamorphosis – as an IT leader, you must implement smart control. Open the IT environment to a Wild Open World of unprecedented choice, and better balance cost, risk, innovation, and value.”

Users can achieve incredible things without the IT department, but they can only maximise their IT capabilities with the IT department. Smart control is about managing technology in tighter alignment with business goals by loosening the grip on IT, according to Gartner.

The symposium pointed out that to support an intelligent business, people in the organisation will need to have access to the full spectrum of information that supports questions such as: What happened? Why did it happen? What is happening? And what is likely to happen?

“If IT leaders do not help, they will be locked out because employees will find the information from whatever source they can: transactions, video, mobile activity, tweets, search activity, blogs, text messaging, and social sites,” said analysts.

Regarding intelligent business, Gartner focused on information sharing. “In an intelligent business, people contribute and share, and there is zero tolerance for people who hoard information,” said Yvonne Genovese, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“To play by this new rule, you need employees to find and share intelligence by combining information and collaboration. To support this culture change, it will require you to create a collaboration platform that includes technologies such as presence, instant messaging, Web conferencing, social network analysis, and collaborative decision making to enable people to discover the right colleagues and experts to share insights and drive desired outcomes.”

Concluding the event, Nick Jones, vice-president and analyst said: “New CIOs and their teams will be entrepreneurial.”

“This team will make decisions to increase innovation and value, taking risks and placing bets. They will be comfortable with ambiguity and risk, having incomplete requirements and still making the decision to act because they would rely on their knowledge and judgment.”

IT Web

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