Not only is James Stikeleather an old friend, as Executive Strategist and Chief Innovation Officer of Dell, he is a new OMG member as well!
Richard and I have always shared a belief that good standards, common architectures and processes, and shared knowledge can accelerate all of an enterprise’s lines of business. With collaboration and co-creation among the entire ecosystem of IT, the value and benefits of growth can be achieved faster, with less risk and at less cost. I, and many others, believe that the OMG has and continues to excel at this. Equally important, the work of the Cloud Standards Customer Council is driving these same ideas into the world of ubiquitous computing.
But the time has come to step up the game. CIOs and IT departments are not well thought of by their enterprises; that needs to change quickly, or there is a risk that CIOs and their departments will become irrelevant to business. The underlying driver for this disappointment can be linked to the lack understanding of what is happening to the business and a lack of innovation in response. The issue is whether IT can transform gracefully, the way caterpillars become butterflies, or not so gracefully, the way dinosaurs were wiped out and replaced with mammals.
Over the last two years, we have been engaged in primary research with The Harvard Business Review, The Economist, CEB (formerly known as the Corporate Executive Board), Intel and TNS Global in an attempt to paint a picture of how the role of the CIO and the IT department needs transformation. We also engaged with CIOs across the globe in discussions about what they were experiencing and what changes were surprising or bewildering them. We have now joined up with HBR and CIO Magazine to start the needed transformation conversations and actions.
The last century of management focused on reducing transaction costs—particularly time and capital. As the 20th century business, and its IT organization, was focused on the industrialization priorities of repetition, scale and efficiency, the evolving 21st century model of value creation focuses on originality, innovation and efficacy. The key to succeeding today is innovation. Innovation is the only insurance against irrelevance. It’s the only antidote to margin-crushing competition, the only hope for out-performing a dismal economy and the only way to truly amaze your customers. Innovation—in operations, products, business models and ecosystems—isn’t merely a competitive advantage; it’s the competitive advantage of the future.
What the research shows is that two necessary (but not sufficient) conditions for success in the 21st century will be for organizations to be socially enabled and to freely operate in digital business ecosystems. Digital business ecosystems mean they can interact with customers, partners, suppliers, even competitors dynamically and fluidly to create value on the fly and in the moment for their customers by assembling each ecosystems participants value propositions uniquely when, where, and how needed. Socially enabled means collaboration, cooperation, co-creation of ideas, value, dynamically across organizational boundaries based upon the social members ability to contribute and the contributions value.
And what those two things need are standards—collaboration, choreography, orchestration, common semantics, and abstracted dynamic infrastructure. If these enabling standards and technologies are not there soon, we run the risk of business adopting, independent of IT, proprietary locked-in IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, BPaaS, BSaaS and pretty much every other “aaS” the marketing types can come up with. Change in the economics of business means enterprises cannot afford to wait. If we cannot get there soon, we run the risk of the mess of the 70s and 80s (and if we are honest, the 90s as well) when IT ignored the PC (not a real computer). Only back then, there was no path (until very late) for getting rid of the mainframe, so IT wasn’t really at risk. Not so much now.
OMG, and now the Cloud Standards Customer Council, has always discovered the need, worked the issues, developed the standards and supported its users with speed and quality. But CIOs and internal IT departments everywhere need you to step it up another notch or two—or three. Technical standards in technology, process, method, knowledge, representation, services levels, even contract language and more are only part of the solution. Management itself has to change. But no matter how well management may change, without the enabling technology to execute with, it is all just a daydream.
Please join the conversation.