Many IT departments go on autopilot. They ask the business for requirements, develop use cases, and then select technologies that fit those requirements. By doing so, IT departments rely heavily on existing technologies and approaches. Rarely is this way of working seen as an abdication of leadership, but that is what it amounts to.
This is How We Do Things
Consider the fact that many companies are chaining new technologies that provide a pathway to the future, like the iPhone, iPad, Android tablets, and other devices, to a 10-year-old infrastructure based on old security paradigms. The result is that mobile devices are being connected via complex techniques with convoluted integrations that are complex to operate and costly to maintain. It’s a cultural issue where the most common explanation is “This is how we do things.”
Enterprises that repeatedly undergo such misaligned integration of new technologies now maintain technology that no longer offers differentiating business benefits. Older systems linger, seen as industry standard or basic infrastructure managed in-house. After all, investments are already made and running costs appear modest.
The Danger of Maintaining Old Technology
The danger of keeping and maintaining such technology is great. While perceived lower operating costs and security rules are often cited as reasons to keep infrastructure in-house, it binds resources that could be allocated for transformative technology. This situation is particularly troublesome when systems have recently been implemented. Justifications for holding onto them are manifold: leverage existing investments, follow internal security or compliance constraints, or state that they are best practices. Holding onto technology that has lost its original promise and lacks vendor support is rarely a good idea.
For in-house technology to have maximum impact and payoff, IT leadership must be able to assign clear business value to technology and track this business value over time. Labeling initiatives as tactical or strategic in terms of long-term benefits is no longer sufficient. Strategic today may not be strategic tomorrow. IT finds itself in a vicious circle of adopting emerging technologies as strategic initiatives, only to find out later that business benefits are no longer there. By this time, the technology is entangled in a web of licensing and technology frameworks.
This white paper, "New Mobile Technology Requires a New Breed of IT Leadership," identifies the shifting business value of technology using three classifications: Transformative, Transitional, and Constraining and provides guidelines on how to:
- Attach Clear Business Value to Existing Technology
- Separate IT Strategy from Operational Leadership
- Choose Emerging Technology Wisely
- Push Back on Business Requirements
- Hire the Best IT Talent You Can Find
- Reward the Business for Implementing Changes
- Identify Transitional v. Transformative Solutions
Check out Stefan Dietrich's latest white paper, New Mobile Technology Requires a New Breed of IT Leadership.