One of the presentations tonight was by Chris Anderson from Wired Magazine, he was talking about the challenge facing IT of managing expectations of what IT can deliver traditionally within the enterprise setting with those of what the end user can actually provision, request or use online, in the cloud or using open source technology – the gmail scenario.
This got me thinking about something dad had told me many years ago when I’d asked him about under investment in IT, and lack of interest and engagement (as I saw it) from the business when I first started out as a server guy all those years ago:
“IT is seen as facilities, like the lights and the air conditioning, it’s just something that should always be online always working, like the FT arriving on the desk on time. There is no excuse for failure, for outages, whatever justification there is, IT just has to work.
When a senior business executive was asked to rate the most important thing to him on a daily basis he replied that the FT arrived on time and that the desk has been cleaned, it was assumed that the IT would be online. Why wouldn’t it?”
This feeds back into the discussion about commercialization and commodity of IT, the challenge that with gmail I get 10GB of disk space, but internally I might only get 500MB, that Windows 2008 is certified but R2 isn’t because that component, hasn’t been tested yet. The expectations, the breadth of choice across the marketplace puts IT in a position where it has to manage or meet expectations, and be two steps ahead. Going back to a conversation with a project manager colleague about a month ago, “I had to get my Windows server rebuilt because the Windows team hadn’t certified the drivers, but they were willing to if my project paid the cost and took the time out”. The concept that IT is ‘having a day out’.
His top ten expectations of the next generation of IT users:
- Mobility – work on their terms in their locations and not be carrying around a specific device or connection with two way access, access to applications or functionality.
- Openness – an open infrastructure with mobility and compatibility in mind, avoiding those ‘not supported situations’ due to technical issues.
- Technology is a personal statement – multi-platform devices, is there any reason that we issue one device, one platform rather than a range of platforms which meet internal security and support standards – Blackberry/iPhone/iPad
- Featherweight apps – understanding the importance of the app that does one thing really well rather than seeking enterprise solutions or bundled solutions which meet neither the original requirement nor the ‘anticipated benefits’. At the same time understanding the possibilities that applications can bring to your customers and users alike, for example the salesforce.com solution.
- Cloud – brings us further flexibility and brings the product or service to us, it brings us application and infrastructure down a wire, empowering us to fulfill the task rather than work our way around adapting me and my client device around the infrastructure.
- Sync – the importance of what sync can bring to an enterprise, but sync in a way that’s interactive both in terms of real time updates and collaboration.
- Social media – making social media work for our enterprise, capitalizing on the existing tools that users are already using to deliver information and collaborate, for example is there a reason that my incidents or market positions can’t be delivered to my Blackberry in a RSS feed rather than those generic forced enterprise big brother style reports?
- Unstructured and structured data – making enterprise search work, rather than using a range of disparate tools to categorize and sanitize data to meet organizational requirements. With search the ‘google’ appliance style search as well as Autonomy style analytics and relationships we can group content and make data accessible with the user and their requirements in mind.
- Security – understanding the importance of security in the enterprise and how we secure data, how we manage risk – are elements of the services that we prefer that could be supplied more easily and securely than we could do so in house. Mixed with that is the standard thing, our organization requires two forms of authentication and security at this bit level, well this supplier doesn’t, they can offer this and that meets my business requirements.
- Blurred lines – how mobility, technology results in blurring the lines between when you are on and offline, but at the same time this creates freedom and opportunity, I can work from home, I can drop the car off to get serviced with the work Blackberry and not be completely disconnected from the world.