Will you still be relevant in 2.6 years?
Tonight, Friday, July 31, 2015, is the first blue moon in 2.6 years and it will be the only blue moon for the next 2.6 years.
Over the past few years most IT organizations have failed to keep up with the ever-changing needs of their business, customers, and senior leadership. While this didn’t happen overnight, it certainly did happen over the last 2.6 years. And what’s astounding to me, is that the next 2.6 years should usher so much change in IT that I’m not sure we’ll be able to look back and recognize our own industry.
Just take a second to think about how fast our industry is changing. SaaS continues to displace traditional IT Services (Help Desk, Mail, CRM, etc, used to be hosted by central IT,) IaaS continues grow massively (e.g. 80% AWS growth this quarter), and the worldwide technical workforce will continue to become more capable as companies like Udacity continue to educate the worldwide work force.
Earlier this week I spent time with a few companies’ senior IT leaders. Three of the four companies I spoke with have removed their IT departments from leading key strategic or skunkworks IT projects. In almost every customer that I work with the problem is not an issue with the tools, lack of process, or smart people. The problem almost always stems from poor execution and communication, historically missing deadlines, improper expectation setting, and the belief that IT is done in a box.
So, what should we be doing to transform enough today to be relevant tomorrow?
To prepare your IT organizations, here are the top three transformations that you need to start now to be a differentiating partner to the business in 2.6 years:
1. Stop being the Geek Team
I know this may be hard to accept, especially after being the technical guru has gotten you to where you are today. The number of people engaged in day-to-day technology administration will start to decline rapidly. Software Administrators are being reduced and consolidated by automation, IT Architecture is being embedded into rack and chip level solutions, and the need to host and develop applications is being replaced by purchases from SaaS providers. The role of IT as a technical service provider is vanishing in front of our eyes. All these trends point to IT re-inventing itself.
2. Act as a clearinghouse for IT
I feel pretty confident saying that IaaS and SaaS are here for good. The real challenges are that our customer, the business, is faced with moving more quickly every day. Most IT departments can’t keep up. In turn the business reaches out to third party providers. In some larger companies, the business owns a substantial number of applications that are not IT supported. If you’re going to survive you need to become the broker for shadow IT services. Without central IT ensuring that all IT projects fit into the enterprise IT architecture, are secure, meet performance requirements, and are low risk, the business is open to significant waste and vulnerability. Embracing change can help us gain back the trust of the business. This is a huge opportunity for us to stay in the game!
3. Reinvent IT
First, we need to change the way we communicate. We should start to focus on the way we are going to sell, market, and communicate a project as much as we focus on ensuring that it is on-time and under budget. We also need to reorganize IT to speed our time-to-market. I’m not talking about bimodal IT, we need to build speed into our DNA and that means everything has to be more efficient and user friendly. Lastly, it’s time to get creative. We need to re-package, re-brand, and re-invent our service offerings. We know our business best; it’s ours to lose.
Over the next few years one thing is for sure: significant change is inevitable. For the leaders of tomorrow, that means breaking away from what we know today and embracing the change that will provide the stewardship our companies, employees, and customers desperately need.
So, will you be ready in 2.6 years?
What do you think? Please share and comment below.
Take care, and have fun transforming!
Fun Fact: A blue moon is not actually blue. Wikipedia states, “The phrase has nothing to do with the actual color of the moon, although a literal “blue moon” (the moon appearing with a tinge of blue) may occur in certain atmospheric conditions; e.g., when there are volcanic eruptions or when exceptionally large fires leave particles in the atmosphere.” A blue moon is a reference to the second full moon in a month. So the next time you say “once in a blue moon” you can expect it to happen within the next 2.6 years.