Thursday, November 25, 2010

Future of IT

@klintron summarizes #Forrester #Gartner and #Zapthink on the trends shaping the future of IT. At first sight, these lists appear to offer a random set of interesting but disconnected opportunities (pretexts) for the CIO to get distracted from Business-As-Usual. Is there a way of working these trend fragments into a coherent future vision for Business IT?

Maybe we shouldn't expect a single coherent vision to cover all this stuff, but I believe organizational intelligence provides a useful framework for joining the following fragments, and connecting them to lasting business value.
  • Collaboration platforms become people-centric (Forrester)
  • Process-Centric Data and Intelligence (Forrester)
  • BPM will be Web-2.0-enabled (Forrester)
  • Business impact of social computing  (Gartner)
  • Complex systems engineering  (ZapThink)


      • Enterprise Architecture. “Static frameworks give way to continuous business transformation best practices. ” (ZapThink)
      • Business Process Management. “Organizations begin truly managing their business processes.” (ZapThink
      • Social computing. The technologies and principles behind Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn “will be implemented across and between all organizations.” (Gartner)

      Business Pay-Off

      • “It will unleash yet to be realized productivity growth, it will contribute to economic growth.” (Gartner)
      • “Organizations ... achieve their goals in the context of an ever-changing business environment.” (ZapThink

      Architectural Framework

      Of course, these and similar benefits have been claimed for any number of previous technological innovations. It is not clear from these brief quotes from some of the leading IT analyst firms exactly how they believe specific combinations of specific elements would produce these outcomes, and how a CIO (or software salesperson) could reason about the likely return on investment. I'm guessing they charge buckets for that kind of insight.


      1. Richard,

        Though I like many of the concepts you've pulled together in OI, the way they are named, packaged, and presented feels like the enterprise becomes a machine and the people mere cogs. It feels like a description of the Borg.

        Where is the passion, the creativity, the fun, the adventure, the solidarity, the entrepreneurship, the "enterprise" (as in "a purposeful or industrious undertaking, especially one that requires effort or boldness")?

        I think the future of the enterprise and enterprise IT is in the direction of increased passion (incl. empathy, creativity, boldness), transparency, and sustainability/resilience. I see none of them highlighted here. I feel I have to read between the lines to find them (if they are there at all).

        Consider Albert Borgmann, who we were recently discussing. In "Depth of Design" he calls for design to create/enable "engagement". Where is the deep "symmetry that links humanity and reality" in your description of Organizational Intelligence?

      2. Thanks Nick

        I am not suggesting that organizational intelligence is the only thing worth striving for, merely that it provides a useful way of thinking about a broad range of technological and organizational initiatives.

        Of course passion and engagement and the other things you mention are also worth striving for: although the CIO may not always be the most obvious person to lead general initiatives across the enterprise, it is certainly important to ensure that these values are respected and if possible furthered by IT initiatives.

        It is not my intention to present organizational intelligence as an exercise in optimizing the enterprise-as-machine. In my post Organizations as Brains, I relay Gareth Morgan's distinction between instrumental (machine) rationality and substantial (human) rationality. True organizational intelligence must aim for the latter, and I have always regarded organizational intelligence as an initiative that requires organizational and cultural change (Theory Y, power-to-the-edge) as much as technological change.

      3. Richard,

        "Of course passion and engagement and the other things you mention are also worth striving for: although the CIO may not always be the most obvious person to lead general initiatives across the enterprise..."

        I know from your other comments, posts, etc. that you indeed under stand the importance of passion, engagement, etc., which is why I was surprised it seemed so completely absent from the slideshare presentation. Especially given your comment above about the CIO. If anyone NEEDS to hear the message of the importance of balancing the rational with the passionate, its IT leadership, which seems all too left-brained!