Monday, January 16, 2012

The Technology Treadmill

In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." – Theodore Roosevelt

There have been predictions on hot technologies and trends to watch for across the board; from vendors, IT consulting companies, media companies (not just IT), academic circles, groups of various kinds and individuals, CIOs or otherwise. The lists short and long, good and bad have caught the imagination of many CIOs as well as others within the company who are asking how will it impact us within the company, and our customers.

It is certain that a few will create enough hype and threaten disruption. Be it personal devices or back end technologies or even consumer facing applications, every new tool or technology promises to change the way business is conducted or we engage with customers. Some are improvements over existing tools with the novelty factor fading away quickly with the response of the existing leaders; the rest fail to follow up on the initial promises.

We occasionally find some actually providing benefit to the enterprise, some measurable, the rest is largely a race against competition to deploy and look savvy. Our employees and customers expect the adoption of almost every new announcement the following day. Thoughts about security or reworking or plain simple ROI are for the CIO to figure out. Vendors and consultants definitely benefit from this running behind the technology.

From the time of the mainframes to the promise of the Internet, social media, and consumerized devices of today with apps and everything in between, technology has created opportunities and challenges for the IT organization. The pace of change is increased with ubiquitous technology; the accelerator is now on auto with everyone running to stay in place. Can we afford to stay where we are and be observers or slow adopters with a hope to survive the mad rush to nowhere ? Is there likely respite from the ever increasing pace of changing expectations ?

The technology treadmill will continue to move irrespective of whether we hop on board or not. It is extremely unlikely that we will be allowed to stay on the sidelines and admire the speed at which the treadmill and its players are going. CIOs will have to stay connected to the pulse and inspect every change from multiple angles. Some team members will have to keep jumping on and off the treadmill to ensure that the ramifications are understood and communicated effectively to set realistic expectations.

In most cases, the call on which ones to stay with or discard will remain with the IT organization. Success or lack of it will however be decided by our internal and external customers and stakeholders. Can the CIO get off the technology treadmill and stay relevant ? I believe that pragmatically the CIO and now even the other CXOs have no choice. They did not enroll into this madness but have been made party to simply by being there; exclusion is not even an option any more.

I am going back to the treadmill with a quote that I leave behind after listening to some retired CIOs. Strangely enough this is the past that someone in the future is longing to go back to” – Ashleigh Brilliant.

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