Shadow IT

The upside of shadow IT

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"There's a disconnect between the traditional IT mindset and trying to get out a new application in a timely manner," notes PwC principal Chris Curran. "When a sales guy comes to IT and says, 'We need to get something out there now,' it can't take a year."

Curran advises PwC's clients to make friends with and learn from business users. More than likely, many have already been experimenting, especially with cloud-based apps for analytics and processing big data, he says.

At Genworth, Murray revamped the IT pay structure to reflect the value of building relationships with people outside of IT. As he sees it, knowing your partners in the business is part of IT becoming more agile.

"The core tenet of agile development is that everyone who has a say in a project is in the room interacting with each other," he says. IT staff can't do that if they don't know their business counterparts.

"Behavior tends to follow the compensation structure, so everyone in IT has a goal of relationship-building with business partners," Murray says. "You want to have social equity to trade on. Every project has bumps in the night and when that happens, you want and need the social equity [with your business partners] to cushion you through it," he explains.

In fact, social equity is a key metric during IT employee reviews at Genworth. "If you have someone who is technically excellent, but they've never had lunch with their customer or know what sports their kids play, you haven't succeeded," Murray says. "You haven't become integrated into the [larger] organization."

The bottom line, these CIOs say, is that the corporate technology landscape has changed for good, and the IT organization must change with it. IT must focus on those areas where it can add the greatest value -- providing workers around the corporate edges with secure access to data and tools to innovate -- even if that means application development tools.

"IT's role is to enable people to solve problems on the ground," says CompTIA's Bauer. "The CIOs and IT organizations that will be winners are those that understand that the game has changed in ways that will never revert back to the way IT was before. Like the church of existentialism, we don't quite know where we're going, but we're on our way."

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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