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Archive for February, 2014

Agility With Stability

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Earlier this week, I attended Gartner’s CIO Leadership Forum in Phoenix, Arizona. This event drew 600 CIOs from the US and Latin America as well as a few from “across the pond.” Last week, I attended CIOsynergy Atlanta which drew more than 150 CIOs, CTOs, and VPs of IT from across the Southeast US. At both events there was a strong desire and great interest in how IT organizations can achieve greater agility while ensuring the stability their businesses also demand.

The challenge of agility with stability expressed itself in different ways depending upon the industry and culture of the IT organization. For example, in Atlanta, I spoke with the head of mobility for a major US department store who is focused on enabling greater agility in the consumer mobile experience but is challenged by the integrations required to legacy systems and PCI requirements. Another IT leader in Atlanta, working at a major hotel chain, said he felt like he had the PCI challenge under control but struggled to avoid unforeseen impacts from IT changes. One of the CIO panelists, who heads up IT for a multi-billion dollar heavy manufacturer, described her agility challenge in this way, “We need to do a much better job of documenting the spaghetti we’ve built up in IT; we need a living picture of all the relationships that tie our systems together.” It was this lack of documentation and understanding of dependencies that she felt was the critical challenge holding her back in transforming her IT organization to be more agile.

In Phoenix at the Gartner CIO Forum, I spoke with the CIO of a large regional university. He said that he had a very entrenched culture in his IT organization and was going to follow Gartner’s recommendation for “bi-modal” IT and set up a separate team chartered with driving agile development projects while ensuring the existing operations team knew how their day-to-day work in “running the business” was equally critical to the university. I also spoke with the CIO of a major electronics manufacturer. She had grown up within the IT organization and knew first-hand how entrenched behaviors and tribal knowledge were major risks to her evolving to a more agile organization.  The CIO of a major international financial services company put it this way, “I have 3,000 batch jobs and do not know exactly what they do, what applications they support and connect to, and who is responsible for them.”

I could go on with more examples, but this is a pretty good microcosm of the challenges facing the CIO today when trying to deliver greater agility while ensuring operational stability. What I take away from both events and the dozens of conversations I had is that today’s enterprise CIOs know they need to be more agile but are genuinely concerned about how that will disrupt service delivery. It seems to be a no-win situation – if you don’t move faster, IT is a bottleneck; and if you do move faster and break things, IT is unreliable. What’s a CIO to do?

At ITinvolve, we’ve been working on this problem for nearly three years now. Actually, these challenges aren’t really brand new and we’ve been thinking about them since before the company was founded. That’s what led us to create a new IT management software company – a company dedicated to getting to the heart of the matter and solving this challenge. We believe today’s CIO needs to provide their organization with an application that brings together and proactively shares the collective knowledge within the IT organization (both systems-based as well as tribal), offers robust and highly-visual analysis of upstream and downstream impacts (not constrained by hierarchical dependency maps), and facilitates collaboration among the relevant IT experts and business stakeholders.

With such an application, IT organizations can be more agile while avoiding unexpected outcomes that disrupt the stability and performance of services to the business. Most CIOs don’t think this is possible and are genuinely grappling with how to deliver this seemingly paradoxical agility with stability that the business demands. Until they meet ITinvolve, and they see how it’s possible to move faster, be more nimble, and still deliver reliable services to the business.

The secret, if there is one, is People Powered IT, and only ITinvolve has it. See how it works for yourself.

Matt Selheimer
VP, Marketing