In the world of technology strategy swings, the cloud and cloud computing offer the next opportunities for going overboard. The same way outsourcing created an extraordinary rush to outsource, sometimes regardless of business value, cloud computing provides the same risks and potential downsides if not approached appropriately and carefully. The use of cloud computing capabilities needs to be added as yet another capability to a full inventory of approaches and evaluated as an option, not as a foregone conclusion.
The challenges of buzz words which permeate first technology, then business and finally general news outlets leads to expectations of the good things associated with the next new thing. With cloud computing hitting the airwaves extensively, the push to embrace the approach becomes the foregone conclusion, rather than another logical option to consider. Technical architecture and its underlying capabilities have long been critical to the strategic delivery of information tools and capabilities in the IT world. Evaluating and incorporating cloud computing capabilities as an appropriate component of an overall architecture makes tremendous sense. Piloting and adding mechanisms by which your team can become knowledgeable about the capabilities makes sense as well. Finally, creating the appropriate financial modeling to assess tradeoffs between internal and cloud investments makes good business sense.
Lastly, don’t miss a critical component of the overall decision life cycle while evaluating cloud options. Always know what potential investments may be needed from a product life cycle perspective and insure that evaluations into options get out in front from a timing perspective.
The debate concerning BYOD or Bring Your Own Device has reached a fever pitch in IT and Corporate arenas. The topic is being brought to a head, not specifically through the personal computer channel as much as through the smart phone channel. Having said that though, the BYOD concept is relevant for the entire population of devices which make an individual productive throughout an entire 24 hour day. What’s at risk as an IT department moves from a tightly controlled, engineered environment where all the pieces are guaranteed to work together to one where multiple components can be interchanged based on the user’s desire? Let’s look at one market dynamic which might be said to be at the heart of the transition.
An interesting observation – it is the seamless, “it always works” aura surrounding Apple products such as the iPhone and MacBook which created the groundswell support for introduction of these into a corporate framework – especially the iPhone. Without engineering these into the IT architecture, the concept of BYOD was introduced because users were unwilling to let go of technology that served them well in their personal lives just because the work day started. Why should I use my iPhone up until 8AM and then switch to a Blackberry since that was my “company issued” device? Especially when my iPhone works so well? The Apple devices tend to work flawlessly because they are engineering in their entirety (engineered hardware, software, manufacturing, distribution, fulfillment AND service) to eliminate any variables which may compromise the customer experience. The concept of introducing these fully closed-loop engineering devices into an environment being asked to “open” the environment leads to some very interesting compromises indeed.
Compromises? Aren’t compromises, or evaluating costs versus benefits within a specific business context a normal course of business dealings? Yes, compromises are a normal part of the business day, they are more than likely dealt with as balancing an ideal course of action against organizational and economic realities. So is BYOD good or bad?
BYOD is good. It gives IT a chance to engage the business to discuss costs, service levels and security. It gives the business the chance to spend less as it allows users more control over devices brought to a corporate environment. It creates an urgency to create a more dynamic governance model – not one where policies and service agreements are set in stone for 5 years, but one where needs and capabilities are discussed on a more frequent basis, with smaller but almost continual adaptations to policy instead of only large changes implemented very infrequently.
Leadership and managing conflicting priorities? Perhaps true leadership anticipates priority conflicts at the time of strategy formulation. When strategic imperatives are at odds, this should be apparent to leadership at the time the strategies are articulated. How about a rule of the roads that establishes a true precedence order in case things aren’t clear cut when the strategy formulators aren’t around. Ok, ok, so things will never be this clean in real life. Effective prioritization is then dependent on extensive communication of strategies and the broadest knowledge of priorities by all constituencies so that at every fork in the road i.e. decision point, the most appropriate decision can be made.
What to learn, what to learn? With Kodak’s bankruptcy filing, a large number of articles have been written about the root cause of Kodak’s failure – the failure to embrace a fundamental change in the photographic market from analog (film) to digital (jpg). What is more very interesting and imminent, is the demise of a large number of other industries whose fundamentals lie in niche areas that are now being encroached on by general purpose devices. Take a general purpose tablet computing device; add a GPS chip, a 3-axis gyroscope, an accelerometer, a forward and rear facing lens and some unifying software (all in an Apple iPad) and hundreds of other niche devices can become obsolete. With an 8 megapixel camera in everyone’s tablet or smartphone, why buy a point and shoot camera? With a GPS chip in every tablet, why buy a special purpose navigation device? With the ability to take HD video, why buy a video camera? With near field communication (not yet in an Apple iPad), wallets become obsolete since credit cards are not needed and cash will truly become inconvenient. What to learn, what to learn? If your industry can become cannibalized by the inclusion of a $5 solid state chip in a general purpose tablet (and some very clever software), get out in front of that curve now.