Like the sun goes down in the west every day, the earth goes around the sun, people make New Year resolutions and the IT industry makes predictions for the coming year. These lists offer hot technologies, CIO priorities, business priorities, technologies that will not last the year, ad infinitum. So what kind of list am I going to create?
Assessing the CIO priorities
Every CIO already knows his/her current priorities, for the next year, and over the next three years (broadly) that fits in somewhere in the organization’s long-term strategy. These are dependent on many factors, some are (though not limited to) industry, size of the organization, geopolitical situation, global market dynamics, consumer sentiment, organization dynamics, and profitability of the company …
The broad collation of priorities, through research conducted, is generic enough to statistically fit over 80% of the CIOs globally; and is available free or for a fee, depending on whose list it is. So I will not pursue this line.
Different matrices, once again based on widespread research and opinions, will tout waves, quadrants, hype curves, scatter charts, bubble charts and so on about disruptive technologies that would matter in the future. Stay with the bleeding edge or lose competitive advantage is the mantra. Some remain emerging technologies for decades like a solution searching for a problem to solve, while many remain niche or never get out of the lab to be adopted in mainstream business. I do not believe I understand enough about these esoteric technologies to offer predictions.
Personal experience and intuition
Having been a CIO or equivalent for more than a decade and a half across seven different industries, I think I do understand the CIO travails and tribulations. To me, every industry brought new opportunities for learning, as well as new paradigms on how existing or new technology can be used. Every slowdown or black swan provided a platform to introspect on successes and lack of some. The next decade and a half will bring disruptions unimaginable today. So here is my list for 2012 and beyond. I can’t predict that all of these will be applicable to everyone; but statistically, over the year you will find some connect.
1. CIOs globally will continue to be challenged on operating budgets. Capital investments will become relatively easier; operating expenses will need to be controlled very tightly.
2. BITA (Business IT Alignment) will fall off the priority list for many as it will no longer be an issue. Business will acknowledge IT contribution and will work with IT to plan business goals. There will be no separate IT goals.
3. Attrition will not be the problem, retention will be. With economic and political uncertainty, staff will hang on to their respective jobs. CIOs will have to take some hard decisions.
4. Clouds will be the first choice for deploying apps for the mobile workforce. The rest will continue to access applications behind the firewall. Hybrid clouds will remain experimental as CIOs figure out that it really does not save money. CIOs will no longer build data centers.
5. Led by Consumerization, mobile devices will be out of IT control (for good) and the personal device will find a way to get inside. CIOs that resist, will have to provide an equivalent additional device, which eventually the business will turn down. Managing multiple screens will become a pain for the executive who will challenge IT to make it simpler. The phone, as a corporate device, will thus be replaced by the tablet over the next two years.
6. CIOs will or be forced to challenge the cost of sustaining big ERP (licenses, support, etc.) as it keeps growing. Alternate support vendors will gain market share. Usage will shift out from the office to using marketplace supplied micro-apps, thereby challenging the existence of big ERP in five years.
7. Social media fatigue will set in and even marketing teams will be asked to show ROI for expenses and investments on such initiatives. CIOs will need to manage expectations around social analytics while consultants will thrive with maturity models and make loads of money.
8. The CIO will continue to be tasked with managing information security with the CISO reporting to him/her. A few cloud bursts (cloud security breaches) will make matters worse before things settle down over 2013 and beyond.
9. Big Data will remain high on hype with vendors pushing and CIOs scratching their heads if it really gives the benefits promised.
10. Custom development of solutions will wane, with an ocean of micro-apps promising to enable business processes as effectively. At the same time, appliances will replace generic hardware.
11. Many CIOs and research analysts will not agree with many of the above points.
I could have gone on and on but will stop now. I thought 11 is good for now; why 11 and not 10? According to Hindu scriptures, it is an auspicious number and if you don’t believe in such things, then I would ask why 10? I know Moses had something to do with it!