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CIOs can be catalysts for change in the postdigital enterprise

Thor Olavsrud | March 15, 2013
For CIOs, it is the best of times and the worst of times. Five macro forces--analytics, mobile, social, cloud and cyber--are disrupting the nature of IT and carrying businesses into the postdigital era.

Analytics are unlocking insights from data to support human decision-making--from big data and transactional data to visualization techniques to fuel descriptive, predictive and prescriptive decision and action. Cloud has changed the economics and cadence of technology investments. On the subscriber side, a growing collection of services is available for subscription--with an acquisition model that is elastic in both cost and capacity.

On the provider side, cloud presents opportunities to monetize information and services in new ways--new or adjacent business models for many sectors, not just high tech, media and entertainment. Cyber security and privacy are part of a constant conversation--guiding innovation in emerging spaces in advance of regulatory concerns, while also dealing with relentless and growing threats."

Leveraging Postdigital Change Requires More Than Shift in Mindset

Leveraging these forces and turning them into an opportunity will require more than a change in mindset, Gandhi and Briggs say. It will require fundamental change in how CIOs approach budget/portfolio management, IT delivery, information disciplines, integration, vendor management, architecture and skills and human capital.

Gandhi and Briggs note that most organizations have a rigid investment process that requires a well-defined business case and requirements, evaluated at a few predefined times during the calendar year. While this process is well-evolved to support big ticket, multi-year initiatives, it is not well-suited to the postdigital era. Instead, CIOs need to adopt a more agile, responsive planning and prioritization function, with project, portfolio and IT finance management disciplines.

Likewise, waterfall delivery has developed to support long-running and widely scoped projects, but is problematic for smaller, dynamic projects.

"Create a SWAT team with diverse skill sets, including some that may be foreign to your IT department," Gandhi and Briggs say. "Think graphic designers, user-experience engineers or even anthropologists and cognitive psychologists in addition to business leads, technology engineers, QA resources and project managers capable of cultivating your own flavor of Agile. Business owners respond to show, not tell, in the postdigital world. Cultivate ideas, develop working prototypes with core concepts and grow your thinking about what is wanted and needed through hands-on experimentation."

On the information disciplines front, data management, stewardship, correlation, cleansing, analytics and visualization will become even more critical disciplines in the postdigital era. Gandhi and Briggs say the "informationalization" of the enterprise should be at the forefront of a CIO's agenda. CIOs need to help businesses move from stove-piped processes to service-based capabilities with metrics that matter.

Meanwhile, integration and orchestration become the building blocks of the IT organization in the postdigital enterprise. A dynamic middle tier that can manage end-to-end transactions between legacy on-premise packages, emerging technologies and cloud solutions will become essential. Gandhi and Briggs note that flexibility in terms of service quality, transaction management, the degree of routing determinism, business rules and policy management will likely be critical.


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