10 CIO considerations for disruptive trends in 2013

With predictions season well upon us, here are ten CIO considerations with regard to the disruptive IT trends in 2013. Rather than predictions per se, these are simply underlying considerations, and in some cases, challenges that CIOs might expect to encounter whilst continuing to leverage the disruptive trends for strategic business benefit across their organizations.

As mentioned in a prior article, the IT Paradox, whilst providing significant business benefits, as well as external simplicity and ease of use for end users, the disruptive technologies such as cloud, social, mobile and big data are creating new forms of internal complexity for IT departments.

CIOs are now exploring ways to reduce this complexity, which is often unseen by their end users, and implement technologies that can help automate the management and operations of their new, transformed IT environments so they can continue to reap the tremendous benefits of these models without escalating costs. They are also exploring how to tap into the many benefits of the combination of these trends as these disruptive forces become ever more inseparable.

Here are ten CIO considerations that may be useful checklist items heading into 2013:

  1. How to leverage unique new combinations of the disruptive trends - This topic of what Gartner terms the “nexus of forces” and IDC calls the “third platform” for IT growth and innovation will become even more significant in 2013. The next wave of business value from these trends will be found in combinations such as performing big data analytics on social sentiment, mobile-enabling employee social communities, streamlining mobile device and application management processes via the cloud, and so on. The "Internet of Things" is a more macro-level example of where trends such as big data analytics, intelligent sensors, cloud-, mobile- and social-computing all converge with tremendous potential for the overall economy. In terms of economic impact, as part of their vision for the “Industrial Internet”, GE predicts a $10-15 trillion contribution to global GDP.
  2. How to constantly drive initiatives from the end user perspective – Due to the consumerization of IT, traditional measures of computing service levels  such as reliability, availability and scalability, now need to be partnered with a “consumerized” end-user experience. Without this functionality, organizations will fall behind their competitors in terms of customer and employee mindshare.
  3. How to manage complexity whilst transforming the entire IT stack on the fly – With cloud, social, mobile and big data changing all traditional notions of IT deployment environments, collaborative paradigms, accessibility to information and transactions, and the volume, velocity and variety of data respectively, CIOs not only need to transform their entire IT stack, but do this on the fly whilst running the business. The scope of this task could be likened to changing all the vital components of a Formula 1 car whilst continuing to run the race.
  4. How to re-think application development frameworks – A key area where the combination of the trends will be realized most heavily is at the application layer. Applications must now be cloud-, mobile- and socially-friendly – an expectation set by the bring-your-own-application (BYOA) trend and more broadly by the consumerization of IT. This requires a significant re-think to the way applications are developed in the enterprise. In addition, applications will need even more cybersecurity measures built-in to reduce vulnerabilities brought about by this new, borderless enterprise.
  5. How to move to a highly virtualized data center concept with cloud brokering and integrated management capabilities – With multiple cloud delivery models such as private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud and community cloud becoming a reality of today’s IT environment, most major organizations are grappling with increased complexity within their environments. CIOs will therefore need to implement a principled framework, strategy, and tightly integrated management tools and brokering platforms to better manage their hybrid environments. The brokering platforms will help to remove cloud complexity, provide faster time to deployment and, ideally, provide a “one stop service” to procure and manage cloud providers.
  1. How and where to solve growing data center complexity issues by leveraging IT appliances – With a significant uptick in the IT appliance trend, in terms of both supply and demand, CIOs will look to these highly optimized packages to solve growing data center complexity issues in dealing with areas such as cloud infrastructure, information management and cybersecurity, and to address specialized industry application needs such as those within financial services and telecommunications.
  2. How and where to re-invent customer-facing business processes for a new, mobile context backed by comprehensive and flexible IT management and support – Mobile computing initiatives will require strong business analysis skills as well as comprehensive IT management and support processes to reap the benefits of re-inventing customer- and employee-facing business processes. This will help address the consumerization of business processes within the enterprise as applications are re-engineered specifically for the new, mobile environment. Additionally, a focus will be needed on mobile application lifecycle management to avoid mobile application “sprawl” and flexible, lightweight mobile worker support models to accommodate “bring your own” devices.
  3. How to pre-optimize IT infrastructures and prioritize high-value opportunity areas for big data analytics – Organizations paying the most attention to determining and prioritizing their high-value opportunity areas for big data analytics, together with pre-optimizing their IT infrastructures with techniques such as storage rationalization, will stand to gain the most from big data investments. Big data analytics should also be thought of in the context of the “Internet of Things” and how the real-time processing of data from intelligent sensors can be utilized for greater automation, efficiency and preventative maintenance in areas such as heavy industry and healthcare.
  4. How to integrate across social silos in order to maximize benefits of social computing – As organizations tap into the power of social computing to enhance employee collaboration and better connect with a new generation of constituents, they will start to see social silos appearing due to the proliferation of social features within a broad number of third-party enterprise software products, such as CRM and ERP, in addition to their core collaboration platforms. To counter this technological “clique” effect which threatens the very premise of their social collaboration objectives, CIOs will need to ensure they have enterprise-wide strategies that incorporate their business objectives for social enablement and, additionally, rationalize their overall technical approaches for implementation.
  5.  How to implement cybersecurity measures to protect and partition data and applications across all virtual pathways – As computing networks and infrastructures, as well as applications, become ever-more virtualized via cloud computing and emerging software-defined network (SDN) capabilities, cybersecurity will increasingly need to be a foundational and embedded part of the enterprise architecture to protect and partition data and applications effectively across all these virtual pathways.

If you’re a CIO, these considerations may be useful checklist items to bring up with your CEO or CFO to help point to the extent of the IT transformation necessitated by this next wave of IT.

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