Many of us involved with IT believe that success in the new normal calls for democratizing IT-enabled innovation. But democratized innovation represents a significant shift from how IT currently operates and there is no clear roadmap or consensus on how to move in this direction. IT leaders know that change is necessary, but are so busy struggling with today's challenges that they don't have the time to bring the future forward.
To prevent anarchy, you'll need to guide this democracy. Here are a few of the objectives you'll need to consider:
- Uplift the IT-smarts of the corporate consumers of technology. Everyone in the organization needs the capability and accountability to satisfy their day-to-day IT needs so that scarce IT resources can focus on creating the future versus supporting the past.
- Manage and mine the data that is literally exploding within our companies. Data storage is growing at 80% per annum with no end in sight. We need new approaches and techniques to exploit the value of the data that, according to a CIO from the electronics sector, is "constantly flowing and oozing out of the business."
- Deploy "sense and respond" and innovation toolkits rather than applications with fixed functionality. Front line employees need access to information about consumers and business operations and the ability to modify processes in real time to adjust to the challenges at hand. In addition, they need toolkits that allow them to test new ideas, measure the impact of these experiments, and share promising ideas with others so that they can be extended and improved upon.
- Architect technology platforms that reflect the target business operating model and support integration, change and growth. Few companies have articulated the business capabilities necessary for the future and the implications for underlying technology. And even fewer have figured out how to solve the Apollo 13 type conundrum of how to bind together the best of yesterday's technology with tomorrow's in ways that support the target business model and accommodate change and growth.
- Transition from governance breadlines to governance buffet lines. Corporate consumers of technology have to wait in line for their share of the IT pie and most get less than what they asked for and need. Business leaders should be able to select the technology products and services that make sense for them and have the authority to experiment with technology as long as they consume it in a way that is healthy for the enterprise body as a whole.
- Lighten the burden necessary to manage the extended IT organizational ecosystems. Managing relationships with external providers (think cloud, SaaS, off-shoring, systems integrators, etc.) requires legions of lawyers, forests of paperwork, and regiments of relationship managers, technologists, and risk management professionals. We have to get better at making these cross-organizational "partnerships" work.
- Better manage the unanticipated consequences of our increasingly technology-dependent and networked world. Toyota's unintended acceleration issues and the recent hiccups in financial markets reminded us that the systems we create are not always under our control. We need better techniques to predict and control these inherent risks.
IT leaders understand that business leaders will take IT matters into their own hands if someone doesn't provide them a roadmap. Translation: Business leaders need your help.
So what are you doing to ensure that the future of IT is democracy, not anarchy at your company?