Three Emerging Trends Drive CIOs to Be Proactive

Author

Gartner Inc., Contributor

March 29, 2015

By David Cappuccio
Gartner, Inc.

Today, people expect to have access to everything, all the time, from any device, anywhere in the world. Five years ago, IT leaders who delivered on that expectation would have been ahead of the curve. Today, meeting this expectation is the bare minimum. As a result, the world of IT is being redefined, as is the way we service customers. CIOs should consider focusing staff initiatives on the following emerging trends to be proactive in their enterprises.

Trend No. 1: IT Service Continuity
IT service continuity integrates availability and disaster recovery (DR) management. Continuity management is not about managing the data center, but about managing IT service delivery to both internal and external customers. In many cases, IT leaders aren’t interested in learning how to develop a DR plan or where to put the next data center. Instead, they want to ensure that critical applications remain operational, either at the primary production data center or an alternative secondary site.

As an example, if there is potential risk, such as a major storm, application operation may be moved to another facility, and then moved back after the risk has passed, without suffering anything more than slight delays in end-to-end response time for a period of time.

A variation on this idea might include running the same application on multiple sites with synchronized data, and using a workload balancer to route incoming inquiry or transaction traffic. If either site fails, the traffic diverts to the remaining active site, giving customers the satisfaction of a continuously available Web presence — even during a major data center outage. The benefits to business operations and to a business’s reputation can be significant.

Continuous availability of critical applications becomes the driver of the strategy, not the location of the physical data center.

Trend No. 2: Bimodal IT
We are all trying to build applications faster. To capture digital opportunities, CIOs need to deal with speed, innovation and uncertainty. This requires operating two modes of enterprise IT: conventional and nonlinear.

There are inherent tensions between doing IT “right” and doing IT fast; doing IT safely and doing IT innovatively; and working the plan and adapting. The second era of enterprise IT has been all about planning IT right and doing IT right, being predictable and creating value, while maximizing control and minimizing risk. In short, it has been about running IT like a business within a business.

CIOs must develop an additional mode of IT to be deployed under three circumstances:

  1. Nonlinear speed: when there is a need for low latency and/or highly accelerated development
  2. Nonlinear innovation: when there is a need for a high level of disruptive innovation
  3. Nonlinear direction: when there is a need to continually readjust to deal with high levels of uncertainty

At the same time, though, IT must do what it has always done: support the legacy systems, which are the foundation of the business, to tightly control changes and minimize risk.

Scarcity of New Infrastructure & Operations Skills
End users are driving IT, and more services are being introduced in hybrid environments at a faster pace. With all this added complexity, the fact remains that IT still owns the user experience. Business users expect the same level of IT performance and support as they experience with consumer-based applications and services. In many cases, IT organizations are not prepared and do not have staff members that understand how all these new environments link together.

IT leaders need to promote agility. Employees should be encouraged to learn and fail outside their primary area of expertise, either through shared workload models or reverse mentoring programs. Ultimately, this will bring value to the business by teaching people to think across the integrated, hybrid environment. IT leaders must also rethink those core metrics that have always been used and realize that the metric drives the results.

David Cappuccio is research vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

This article was written by David Cappuccio of Gartner Inc. from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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