A couple of weeks ago I went to the presentation of this year’s Harvey Nash CIO survey. It’s actually taken me that long to be able to sensibly get my thoughts down onto the blog. Partly because of time constraints, but partly because I didn’t want to write a critical piece without properly thinking it through, making sure I wasn’t just indulging some negativity.
Much of the survey was the same old stuff, are you using mobile, blah, cloud, blah, BYOD, blah blah blah. Then there was a question around advantages and disadvantages of disruptive technologies. Shadow IT, by which we mean IT that has been deployed without the knowledge or blessing of the IT department, was viewed by 8% of CIOs of being High Advantage, and 53% as High Disadvantage.
You can see why this would be. CIOs take the view that this type of IT carries great risk, because it hasn’t been properly vetted, that data can be stored overseas if it is cloud tech, that security could be compromised and that they might suddenly be asked to stretch their meagre budgets to support this stuff that they hadn’t been aware of. However I think this is a pretty blinkered view. Why? Let’s look at a later stat from this survey.
This question asked which percentage of CIOs who saw ‘great innovation potential’ that had not been achieved. 69% thought that not enough time and resources had been invested in innovation. Over two thirds of CIOs think that innovation isn’t happening? Of course, what this means is, two thirds of CIOs don’t think they have the budget to fund ‘innovation’. The glaringly obvious fact is that of course innovation is happening, but it’s happening where innovation always happens, at the edge of the organisation where need is greatest. It’s happening with ‘Shadow IT’. The very thing that CIOs fear most is the source of the innovation they don’t see.
The traditional CIO is in a very dangerous place right now. IT is no longer something that can be controlled, locked down and spoon-fed to grateful ‘users’. To resist this and bemoan ‘Shadow IT’ as a disadvantage is to consign oneself to the dustbin. There were a couple of long-in-the-tooth CIOs on the panel at this event that chuckled at the idea of ‘Big Data’. ”We’ve seen it all before” they say. How wrong, and complacent can you be. There has never been a time of change and growth of data like there is today. IT has never been available in such a consumerised, and commoditised form. And this pace isn’t slowing, it’s accelerating.
There is a quote elsewhere on this blog from a US Army chief that says ‘If you don’t like change, you’re really not going to like irrelevance’. CIOs take note - control is a thing of the past.