It’s rapidly approaching the time of the year when, for many CIOs and IT managers, the first round of the annual budgeting fight begins. There will be a strong focus on cost, as ever, with ‘doing more for less’ dominating the traditional discussion. However with business managers clearly wanting more, and indeed contracting externally for more, from technology could this be the time to try to open the debate about a real change? The question is not the role of IT in the enterprise, that’s what the current budget is all about funding; no the real question is ‘what role should a broad range of technologies being playing in the enterprise’?
If this sounds a tough nut to crack then try this simple test; get the CFO to authorise a look through the corporate credit cards to find the money going out on ‘services’ from any number of players such as Amazon Web Services, Google, or any of the other new names in this market. Some large groups have had big surprises when these numbers were consolidated, and have recognised the need to understand and manage the use of ‘services’ better. If nothing else getting this onto the table in a factual manner should be a help to starting the necessary debate on this issue that will have to faced in one of these coming years!

I reckon there are three elements to go about this; 1) Assemble the external and internal evidence of change; 2) look to identify the impact of short term and the longer term risks; 3) design a programme to ‘change the game’ building in both cost savings and value creation. (if you think the last one is daunting then read on because I am going to help you with this!).
The checking of expenditure on credit cards is a key internal test, money talks after all, but don’t forget to do a round to ask what the younger fast rising stars managing departments think that they want, why and where the pay off is. Again consolidation of these demands usually works to build a picture that illustrates the current IT department skills and funding simply don’t fit with the requirements, and that the reasons for doing it are not driven by cost reduction, but by ways to engage with the market and lift revenues.
Externally there is no shortage of good quality reports, but lets ignore the obvious, and look at this in a different way. Try to get to read the Forrester report released in July 2010 ‘The coming upheaval in Tech Services’ as an example. This defines how those in the tech industry who supply a wide range of the current services to you will have to change, which in turn means the operations of the IT department in using external suppliers and providers is going to have to change as well. In the same vein is the Global CIO report studying the shift in user behaviour by the Millenial generation under the title ‘The IT revolution has begun’ once again making the case for new capabilities to support new ways of working. And of course there is a rich seam of bloggers including my old friend Peter Evans-Greenwood in his ‘business models for the old rules of IT’ post.
Taken together the most likely impact is that the evidence will be overwhelming that change is under way, and that the risk is not to recognise this and do something about it! But can you really build a long term strategy and invest in the manner of the past with say the introduction of ERP? Probably not! So how to identify what to do for short terms wins, long term moves in the right direction, enable the immediate challenges to be mastered, in short a dynamic program to manage a continuous unstructured change in response to the market in a structured manner.
Seems impossible? Well sit down to concentrate and go to where my colleague Alex Wortman has placed a presentation that outlines, though in quite some detail, how to do it, why to do it, as well as the gains. The first time I was shown this work and the presentation I have to tell you I was seriously impressed.
So please, you know well enough that technology and the business use of technology is changing in your enterprise, now its time to face up to it and do something about it. The alternative is to face losing control over the coming year(s) as more and more of the shift happens driven by and increasing amount of end users ‘shopping’ for suppliers of ‘services’. The very real danger is not just the money leaking out of the enterprise but that these moves are contracted by business managers with no ability to see the overall impact beyond their own needs and benefits case.