Chris J Powell

IT Ninja’s…and They aren’t in IT

There has been much talk lately about the world of Shadow IT and even Gartner is weighing in saying that by 2015, as much as 35% of IT spending will be outside of the Corporate IT Budget.  I tend to agree with that statement although I think the figure may be a little high.  The shrinking of IT Departments throughout the recession has lead to other departments not waiting for approval to move forward with specific IT Related projects like Collaboration, Analytics and the Cloud Service de jour. 

I can personally attest to more than a few challenges that I have faced in following the “rules” when it comes to some very effective technologies.  Being the person that I am, I tend to be a little out in front of technology developments (my last calculation is that I read no less than 500,000 words per week in tech related “stuff”) but as usual…I am a bit of an anomaly. 

This concept is not purely a symptom of the recession and smaller departments though, the pheomenon has been happening for decades but with the value of decisions being made increasing dramatically (this goes beyond the marketing department buying a Mac and installing Adobe Creative Suite).  In a fairly recent release of Price Waterhouse Cooper’s Digital IQ paper…one of my favourite quotes is:

The core of the ecosystem for innovation has moved from inside the firm to out in the marketplace,” says John Sviokla, a principal at PwC. “Customer and employee expectations are being shaped by this new, dynamic and exciting environment. If you miss this trend, you’ll be increasingly irrelevant to the market.

Within the Digital IQ paper there are seven key components that are discussed to both measure and improve a company’s Digital IQ.  They break down into 4Technology and 3 Process Trends:

Technology Trends:

  1. Mobility:  The global trend of computing hitting ever smaller devices and being taken anywhere and everywhere is on track with everything that I have read over the past year.  Enterprise Data is EVERYWHERE…and companies need to learn to deal with the harsh reality of it.
  2. Social Media: Like it, Love it or out right hate it…Social Media is here to stay.  More people logon to the top three Social Media Sites daily than the entire Global Internet Population just a decade ago.
  3. Cloud Computing: Sourcing nearly any IT Project is simply just a phone call away and Cloud Computing companies can have the systems setup and configured in a matter of hours in many cases…the same project internally could take days, weeks or months!
  4. Business Intelligence: BI is all about the move to predictive analysis and decision support.  The future is in the fingertips of not some Computer Engineer in IT but in with the Sales Manager, Operations Manager or even Finance Director! 

Process Trends:

  1. Strategic Planning: The importance of knowing the direction of future goals is becoming more and more vital to the continued success of companies.  Can every eventuality be plotted and planned for…of course not but managing change comes from having a plan in place.
  2. Mobilization: The Data has hit the road.  Smartphones with more computing capability than corporate desktops and a workforce that absolutely does not want to be tethered to an office chair means that businesses are rapidly moving to a decentralized model.
  3. Roadmap Execution: Having a plan, presenting the plan and then executing the plan are three distinctly different things.  Success in the future will be firmly measured by the ability of the business to execute on its Strategic Roadmap.

These trends may not be earth shattering news to most but the fact that they all have become intertwined with business planning and execution is important for IT Leaders.  The world of Shadow IT is out there…it will continue to grow in it importance and one of the greatest threats is not to the IT Department but to the business units who are not looking at and performing risk assessments and including the skills of an empowered IT Department to oversee and support the move to scalable solutions.

The move is happening all over the place.  In an article by there was a very interesting quote by the CTO of Sesame Workshop (yes we are talking about the home of Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird):

IT has become a trusted business partner. It now helps users with contracts…”

The future is no longer about rigid controls.  It is about charting the right path and moving forward.  Yes, Risk and Security needs to be mitigated but when life is moving at the speed of light…balance must come into play.


Chris J Powell

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