There are many new organizational pressures that CIOs have to address.
One is from the top level of the organization where CEOs often have only a basic understanding of IT — much like the ABCs: in this case, Apple, Bangalore and Cloud. In other words, CEOs want everything from IT to be as simple and intuitive as the stuff that Apple builds. Then, if there’s a problem or budgets are getting tighter, the solution is to “ship it all out to Bangalore; let’s get rid of this.” And lastly, since even airline magazines are writing about cloud computing, the CEO now knows that the business can not only outsource to India, but to the cloud as well.
Consumerization also is having a devastating effect on the IT department. Previously, IT was the place that dispensed the cool technology to people when they started work at a company: a notebook PC, a cell phone or some video capability. Nowadays, when Generation Y employees begin work on their first day and are handed their tools, they pull a face and say, “You expect me to use this old stuff?” In many cases, people have better hardware and better Internet access at home than at the office. They expect the IT department to follow all the latest trends and to keep up with every new hardware fad. And that’s the dilemma.
CIOs are clearly caught in the middle: Much as they want to meet these demands, they cannot always cater to everyone.
Recently, for example, I talked to the CIO of a temporary employment agency. The company boasts of a modern image and a CEO who requested that all employees in the company be provided with an iPad to show how cutting-edge the company was. “Oh, and while you’re at it, make sure they have iPhones, too,” the CEO reportedly said. Was that the same CEO who kept asking for budget cuts, the CIO wondered?
The CIO was unsure of what to do. On the one hand, he would have been glad to provide everyone with the latest technology. But the CIO had doubts over both the manageability and the security of the iPad in a corporate environment. And most of all, he was absolutely not sure the enterprise applications that he had spent so much time building were going to work properly on this platform. Same for the iPhone.
Should he give in to the demands from his users and the CEO? Or should he use his role as an IT leader to adhere to the strict standards he had set out for the company to ensure compliance on different levels?
I believe that it’s useless resisting the pull of emerging technology. Consumerization means employees will bring their iPads and iPhones to work whether the devices are sanctioned or not. And if they’re not able to use corporate applications on these devices, employees will grab some collaboration tools from the “cloud” and move massive amounts of corporate data onto these cloud-hosted applications.
It seems to me that the CIO really has no choice but to follow these whims from users and management and embrace new technologies as they emerge. At the same time, IT has to be prepared to stretch the current constraints on security and compliance to support the greater goals of the organization and its auditors. And that’s not as easy as ABC.
How do you cope with conflicting demands from internal and external stakeholders? Let me know here on Smart Enterprise Exchange.