Mobile is another area rife with opportunity. Look beyond the issue of control to see how mobile devices and apps can help employees achieve better business results and how your infrastructure can best serve its increasingly mobile-oriented customer base. Ditto on social networking, HTML5, and related technologies -- cloud services, too.
Working together, you can try out ideas through collaborative pilots. That approach is working well for the CIOs of Disney Interactive, GE Healthcare, and DuPont. PwC calls them value-creating CIOs because they see the expanse beyond the protected core where they can innovate and experiment. Of course, CIOs don't create value without an IT staff to execute the plan. Looking beyond the firewall is paramount for business analysts; software, systems, and data architects; CSOs; infrastructure managers; database designers; and so on.
Embrace the tech savvy outside of IT
Deputizing tech-savvy business colleagues as part of a shadow IT organization that works with you, rather than around you, is a great way to expand your operations while loosening your workload.
Project managers, product managers, and solutions architects -- not just business analysts -- are strong candidates for these roles. Rather than wait for them to work around restrictions they see as being unreasonable, embrace them and set limits they will respect. In an environment where teamwork is emphasized over red lines, everyone learns, and the chances of meaningful business gains are much greater.
These days, product designers are increasingly using the same technologies that IT does, as well as specialty ones IT doesn't. As these technologies become more powerful, they are more likely to interact with back-office systems, such as customer support, sales management, CRM, SCM, and so on. A modern website is a great example of this confluence, one in which IT usually has minimal involvement; even the servers are often handled by an outsourcer.
For example, automakers whose cars track driver locations and habits to provide them with fuel-efficiency tips will need to tap into back-end information systems. Single-serve coffee makers with social networking hooks to share coffee trends will require customer data be accessible -- introducing performance, access, and security issues that the product designers probably aren't aware of.
In such cases, does IT have a role other than to deal with the consequences after the fact? Can IT participate in product development in product design departments, much as IT business analysts work in business units to help understand and shape activities that depend so much on IT? Maybe product designers take over the innovative, front-office IT work -- designing and deploying the cool stuff, from social networking to mobile apps -- and leave the back end of ERP, backup, and networking for an unloved "IT facilities" department or, worse, an outsourcer to manage?
IT's new mantra: "Think different"
The old Apple slogan, "Think different," is an excellent mantra for IT in rectifying the contradictions of the new IT mandate. InfoWorld columnist Bob Lewis explains how to do so in "Run IT as a business -- why that's a train wreck waiting to happen." In other words, everything you've been told is wrong.