Study: Don't Know tops IT's to-do list

Nascent technology poised to take hold of enterprise, as CIOs gear up to champion Don't Know as an agent of change

Editor's note: The following story is from InfoWorld's 2008 April Fool’s spoof-news feature package. It is not true. Enjoy!

Organizations seeking to leverage cutting-edge technology in service of business goals, look no further: Don't Know is fast shaping up as the long-sought-after paradigm shift to competitive advantage, one that has tech departments across all sectors scrambling to implement Don't Know into every facet of the enterprise.

According to a survey of 473 CIOs conducted by Tech Biz Currents, nearly two in three tech execs are working hard to capitalize on the increasingly attractive value proposition of Don't Know, rounding out their IT road maps with Don't Know implementations in nearly every corner of the tech landscape, from networking to security to storage and beyond -- even among project management initiatives, long viewed as the last likely entrant in the burgeoning Don't Know game.

"Inklings of the trend cropped up in previous years, especially in cutting-edge areas like Enterprise 2.0," said Art Bergson, senior analyst at Tech Biz Currents and co-author of the survey. "But this year's results are tantamount to mandate: Don't Know is the fast track to tomorrow's agile enterprise -- and an essential component of any tech execs' arsenal for bringing about companywide, competitive-minded change."

And while less forward-looking colleagues catch up on old-guard projects such as network security, compliance, and the greening of IT, 58 percent of this year's CIOs will ride the Don't Know wave to the kind of competitive advantage last year's forward thinkers reaped from Don't Know social-networking implementations.

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"Today's push to roll out Don't Know is clearly a grassroots movement, one that has reached the corner office from the end-user level on up," said Jeff Richardson, director of future-proof technologies at Tech Biz Currents and co-author of the survey. "After all, it was in the user-centric sphere -- enterprise wikis, blogs, social networking, and folksonomies -- where Don't Know played the most prominent role the past two years we conducted the survey."

The survey, which polled CIOs not only on technical implementations but also staffing decisions, interdepartmental communication, and overall business strategy, uncovered a number of chief hurdles CIOs face in becoming Don't Know agents of change at their organizations -- in particular, a likely shortfall of IT workers fluent in Don't Know technologies and best practices.

"Don't Know will have a significant impact on IT staffing and department morale in the years ahead," Bergson said, pointing out that, on the one hand, Don't Know is without doubt the hottest skill on the IT horizon, with 51 percent of CIOs surveyed seeking to sign Don't Know specialists to their staffs, as compared to the 21 percent seeking project managers and 12 percent hungry for development talent.

And yet, on the other hand, Bergson added, Don't Know tops the list of CIO staffing concerns for the second year running. According to the survey, a full one in two tech execs believe Don't Know will contribute significantly to their inability to fill all open IT positions in the year ahead.

"It's apparent that the sudden demand for Don't Know across the technical spectrum is creating a shortage in applicants versed in Don't Know," Richardson said. "Young IT talent looking to get ahead would be well advised to seek certification in Don't Know and volunteer to lead any Don't Know initiatives their company already has under way."

And with Don't Know topping the list of best practices at most organizations, this shortage of talent knowledgeable in Don't Know as an IT ethos does not bode well for those charged with capitalizing on Don't Know in competitive markets.

And yet, to its credit, IT seems to be aware of the need for strong-willed Don't Know strategists at their organizations, as Don't Know is fast proving to be a rallying cry across the IT ranks. Asked to describe what was contributing to IT's belief that the company was heading in the right direction, 32 percent of respondents cited Don't Know as a touchstone buoying morale, up from 26 percent in 2007, and a mere 17 percent the year prior.

But before jumping into a Don't Know implementation full bore, consider undertaking a small-scope Don't Know campaign to achieve buy-in not only from key stakeholders and line-of-business professionals but also the IT rank and file, such are the findings of the survey, which asked CIOs to rank the importance of a variety of current communication initiatives in place. Here again, Don't Know came out on top regardless of sector.

"Don't Know is a paradigm shift," Bergson said. "As such, Don't Know thought leaders at today's most successful organizations are carefully plotting a path that emphasizes cultural change in favor of their Don't Know visions, aligning their technology initiatives to business goals to ensure the flexibility necessary to capitalize on anything that Don't Know throws the organization's way."

The accompanying Tech Biz Currents' report recommends appointing a Don't Know steering committee, one with the latitude necessary to affect true Don't Know mind-set transformation throughout the organization. Training in Don't Know is also a must, as is establishing a clear line of communication across the enterprise that Don't Know is a chief priority.

"Don't Know will no doubt encounter resistance among those less adept at envisioning the rewards a Don't Know approach to technology can reap," Richardson said, noting that it is up to upper management to convey the importance of Don't Know to those further down the chain.

"Don't Know is a top-down process," Richardson said. "Organization discipline is an imperative. As a leader, you must set the Don't Know tone and follow through by demanding a Don't Know-minded attitude of your staff every step of the way toward fulfilling your Don't Know vision."

Bergson, who estimates that the Don't Know market will grow to $127 billion by 2013, recommends bringing Don't Know consultants on board, regardless of your past experience with Don't Know initiatives.

"Just because you spearheaded a successful Don't Know enterprise 2.0 project in 2007 doesn't mean a Don't Know security project will go off without a hitch," Richardson warned. "Don't Know experts can help you better align your Don't Know know-how with the particulars of any new Don't Know rollout you undertake."

And with Don't Know expected to be the business directive of nearly one in three enterprises within the year, is it any wonder why 42 percent of this year's respondents cited Don't Know as the technological initiative most likely to be keeping them awake?

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.