Time for IT to be bold – a call to action

Profile picture for user cebess By Charlie Bess April 20, 2015
Summary:
The opportunity for information technology to impact businesses today is greater than at any time in the past. It requires a bold, strategic approach.

bold future
Last week I was in a twitter chat targeting CIOs and their use of cloud techniques. During the discussion the facilitator asked “What are the top drivers of cloud adoption?” Areas like cost reduction, handling spikes in IT load, leveraging staff… were mentioned by those attending.

A bit of navel-gazing from an IT perspective – if you ask me. My view is that cloud’s more service and usage-based approach eventually gets down to increasing business flexibility. There are definitely essential elements of the cloud, but it is all about the business at the end of the day. Anything we can do to take latency out of the response to events and provide more options is critical.

It is time for those in a business leadership position to understand that this is not a period to be passive about the leverage provided by the information technology capabilities of the organization. The goals cannot be just about cost. The initiatives need to be about business advantage and value. Strategic investments today to increase visibility, transparency and reduce time-to-action will have long-lasting impact.

To paraphrase Warren Buffett: organizations need to be bold when others are acting tactically

I've mentioned before that the next wave of computing can be a product of financial stress. We need to move beyond the short-term thinking that drives management today and enable the organization to internalize the implications of the strategic shifts underway – and act upon that understanding.

I was asked this week: “If you had the opportunity to give a TED talk, what would you discuss?” I’d present on how it is time for organizations to reassess how they operate. If they keep behaving the same way they always have and merely cut each line item of the budget without rethinking the overall approach, they are admitting:

  • They are a victim.
  • They don’t have new valuable ideas.
  • There are no better ways to spend the money.

That is just not true today, and hopefully everyone knows you can’t cut your way to growth. It will take experimentation, real organization change planning and leadership. Now is a time to rethink, reprioritize, reengineer, and regenerate. There are new service innovations underway. Is your business really taking advantage of this disruption?

Formally ask if all the elements in your application portfolio deliver the appropriate level of value to the business. It is fine to determine if the assets are efficiently utilized, but that is not enough. Reassessing the business environment and the new options available takes time and money, but the benefits are enduring and may even cut costs in the near term. It may be as important what you stop doing as what you start.

Organizations that understand the value and visibility potential of their information have a greater ability to identify innovative ways to:

  • reduce operational costs
  • improve their connections with customers
  • increase communication across and between organizations
  • reduce time-to-market and time-to-action

Are you using the collaboration (both with machines and personnel) and automation capabilities as part of the business processes? It is time to identify ways to reposition businesses for the future, using the abundance of capabilities available. There is no other choice, other than the death spiral of belt-tightening. In many industries, businesses are vulnerable. It is a time for leadership and vision.

I’ve found that leaders are always willing to hear about innovative, creative ideas as long as you put them in a framework they can embrace. You still need to address the basics of ROI and business objectives and drivers. Managers, on the other hand, may be willing to focus only on operational excellence issues and cost cutting during times of disruption.

Leaders need to understand the motivators of their organization. Look at these drivers and their implications from different organizational perspectives, then share the potential effect of your ideas and how the business will be impacted -- now, more than ever.