It helps that the mobile security technology came of age in 2010 for the major platforms. At a recent CIO conference I attended, the consensus was that the era of the corporate BlackBerry is over; employees will bring their own devices, and if they meet the basic policy requirements, they're in. Defense contractors tell me the same thing, as do hospitals and other highly regulated entities, although their parameters are more stringent. Every survey I've seen backs this up.
What do companies expect from IT going forward? As usual, several not-always-compatible things.
- Ensure the infrastructure is reliable, cheap, and secure -- without being a focus.
- Be business-minded, not technology-obsessed, particularly in support of customer-facing activities that add to the top line.
- Equip the business to take advantage of emerging technologies such as mobile, social networking, cloud apps and environments, Big Data analytics, and the Web.
- Get out of the way of the new generation of tech-savvy employees.
The contradictions are evident: Be open and safe. Don't get geeky but stay on top of the new tech trends. Be business-focused and tech-savvy. Let the new generation own more of the tech, but make sure it all works. Learn to take risks but don't threaten the core. Do more with less.
Get used to it.
Although every company has a different reality in the engine room, the focus is what it can do to propel the ship forward, not how the engine is built. You're Scotty on the Enterprise, tasked with figuring it out when under attack and everything is breaking.
Data analytics: Pure opportunity
Before you succumb to pessimism, remember that with change comes opportunity.
Take analytics, one of the major areas of new IT investment. To date, IT's focus has been predominantly internal -- how the business or supply chain is running. That's essential, of course, but a decade after ERP and MRP, the time is right to set your sights beyond the company walls.
Understanding the external world -- the market, the customer, the trends -- is where competitive advantage is achieved. Here, analytics, especially around decision support, Big Data and fuzzy data, predictions, and inline adjustments (so-called operational BI), are key.
Despite the money being poured into these areas, they remain poorly understood. Here's where business-and-tech-savvy IT can help like no one else. Data management, large information systems -- the knowledge IT has accumulated in the past two decades dealing with data is essential to navigating the huge info pools, complex relationships, and high rate of change at the center of these problems.
As InfoWorld columnist Bill Snyder recently reported, analytics encompasses the best of IT's legacy and its new front-office mission. The business guys just don't understand how Hadoop or MapReduce can make them smarter -- but you can.