Will IT Miss The Digital Wave? - InformationWeek
IT Leadership // Digital Business
11:07 AM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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Will IT Miss The Digital Wave?

That doesn't matter. The important question is -- will you?

Eating At Interop: 8 NYC Dining Options
Eating At Interop: 8 NYC Dining Options
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In many companies, IT isn't at the cool table.

The marketing team is busy creating a mobile app for customers. The product design team is cooking up an Internet of Things opportunity, or product managers are figuring out how a physical book, loan application, or concert could be recast as a digital experience. The IT organization often is left out of these customer-facing development efforts, or it's called in toward the end to patch data security holes or integrate a forgotten data element.

This trend of cutting IT teams out of digital efforts, combined with reports on how tech spending by execs outside of IT is on the rise, has commentators fretting about the future of the IT department.

But that's not your problem.

The right question for you is: Are you one of the people these groups would call in to move one of these projects forward? Is your team seen as one that has indispensable skills in getting creative, customer-facing technology projects up and running -- quickly and with high quality?

We just did a survey in which we asked 92 non-IT professionals to name the single biggest thing IT could do to improve its value. Tops (cited by 30%) is for IT to work more closely with business units. Just 8% want more innovative ideas. Business unit leaders want a technology partner, working side by side with them.

Helping the next generation of IT leaders navigate this new digital terrain is the reason we created our first InformationWeek IT Leadership Summit, coming Sept. 30 in New York City as part of Interop New York. (Access full agenda and registration here.) We see this one-day gathering as a place for CIOs to send their most promising leaders in order to build a deeper bench of digital talent.

[Think one Interop is the same as them all? See why that's not so: NYC Vs. Vegas: 10 Fun Interop Differences.]

No question, companies still need strong, central technology leadership in the coming digital/cloud era. But you and your teams will need the skills to guide a different kind of technology development -- one that's hyper-responsive to customer needs and changing tastes and isn't tolerant of anything that gets in the way.

Companies need technology leaders prepared to answer this question: If Airbnb can build a tech-based business valued at $10 billion while having just four to eight people in IT operations because it runs on Amazon cloud infrastructure, why can't we get our Web app more quickly?

Josh Oakhurst, chief strategy officer for digital development firm Skookum Digital Works, says he's seeing a new generation of tech-smart business leaders who just want to build something great -- to take on "aspirational technology projects." These leaders reject the "silly Silicon Valley fail-fast idea," he says, and instead they expect technology to work out of the gate. (Oakhurst will be one of our Summit speakers, in a workshop session titled "Getting Digital Done.")

InformationWeek's mission with our IT Leadership Summit is the same one you should have. It isn't to get all of IT to the cool table. It's to get you there. Please join us.

In its ninth year, Interop New York (Sept. 29 to Oct. 3) is the premier event for the Northeast IT market. Strongly represented vertical industries include financial services, government, and education. Join more than 5,000 attendees to learn about IT leadership, cloud, collaboration, infrastructure, mobility, risk management and security, and SDN, as well as explore 125 exhibitors' offerings. Register with Discount Code MPIWK to save $200 off Total Access & Conference Passes.

Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in ... View Full Bio
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User Rank: Author
8/22/2014 | 9:55:15 AM
Re: BT the new IT?
You're right Terry, I was thinking of marketing teams hiring outside developers without involving IT. I'm not so sure I buy the image of marketing not being very tech savvy, I think that has changed at many companies. But I am sure that marketing is very comfortable turning to third parties to do their creative/development work, they've done that forever. 

Do you think B2B skips the mobile movement? I've seen some very creative multi-channel digital work by B2B companies. Might faxes just continue to co-exist alongside mobile channels?
User Rank: Ninja
8/22/2014 | 9:52:58 AM
Re: Mobile dev
Laurianne, I keep hearing this, but never see this in the real world? Can you name anyone outside of the Fortune 500 that this applies to? While they may be the biggest companies, they are only 500 out of thousands of companies. Maybe some new tech startups?

I certainly agree that 500 is "many", but definitely not "Most". A common theme used by tech journalists and editors is "if you aren't doing this, you are getting left behind the times." I think it's more hyperbole than reality.

While I could certainly be wrong, it has never been my experience that 80%+ of tech "trends" don't apply to MOST companies, especially mid-size ones.
User Rank: Author
8/21/2014 | 1:53:29 PM
Mobile dev
Customer-facing mobile dev is a power seat in the digital business. Plenty of marketing teams have acquired dev teams who in another time would have worked for IT. IT has two choices at many large companies -- become a true partner with marketing, or get shoved aside.
User Rank: Ninja
8/21/2014 | 12:58:33 PM
Re: BT the new IT?
I'm still laughing at the idea marketing is creating mobile apps all by themselves. Most of marketing guys I ever knew couldn't find the power button on their computers.

I'm sure Chris means marketing is directly engaging some outside IT to develop the app without involing internal development team. I could see that. There is a transition going on in skill sets, internal IT more geared to keep ERP running. Only the biggest companies are going to build their own internal mobile development teams. And only certain types of companies will ever have to worry about it. By that I mean consumer facing versus B2B. We still send faxes to some of the businesses who are our customers.
Shane M. O'Neill
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
8/21/2014 | 12:29:00 PM
BT the new IT?
I like Forrester's idea of business technology, or BT, where developers, designers, marketing pros, IT, and anyone who works on technology-related projects are under the same umbrella. It's easier said than done. It will call for some restructuring. Turf battles will ensue. But blending is necessary for digital businesses. The silo mentality is leaving IT out in the cold.
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