Driving a car, riding a motorcycle, walking into glass windows, and information technology have one thing in common. It’s called target fixation, a phenomenon that happens when a person or an organization becomes so fixated on an issue or something in their sight that they veer off course and crash directly into it. But target fixation, sometimes referred to as myopia — actually a completely different concept, is the least of IT’s concerns when it comes to producing a competitive advantage in an organization.
The worse killer is entropy – definitions of which vary, but in general, it is the dissolution of an organization into a broken system.
But when the two meet, it spells disaster. Entropy plus myopia means that entire organizations can be slamming head first into those walls. That was the case about 7 years ago, when Nick Carr wrote “IT Doesn’t Matter” for the Harvard Business Review. Presumably after death threats and backlash, Nick softened the title to “Does IT Matter” and wrote a book about it. I wrote back to Nick saying yes – he’s right…and he’s wrong. IT completely matters but it is in danger of becoming obsolete and irrelevant. That was the state of IT when I entered it in the mid 1980s – when companies were fixated on separate divisions and were refusing to accept the adoption of the personal computer. That was the state in 2000 when IT so overburdened by Y2K efforts that they lost core advantages because they were rearchitecting client/server systems for compliance rather than competitive advantage. That was the state that Nick Carr was talking about then when he said that IT was so overburdened with keeping the lights on that it lost sight of its real value.
That’s why it was refreshing and frustrating to see that the Gartner Symposium represented a far more holistic view of information technology and the problems IT faces. Gartner brought in 8000 people or so, of which nearly 1/4 were CIOs. These CIOs were unlike traditional CIOs of my past – they were completely engaged in what is relevant; how to get there, and what they need to do.
Cloud computing was one of the answers.
I and my highly motivated CloudBlog production crew got a chance to interview one of the fastest growing systems integrators about this phenomenon. Glenn Weinstein is the CTO of Appirio. He and his founders all came from on premise software companies (SAP, WebMethods, Borland, etc.) and bet their careers and their dollars on the public cloud. They are now one of the most formidable cloud implementation partners around in no small part because they are a system integrator as much as they are a product company. They represent the future. How do I know? because with 140 people or so, they are serving Fortune 100 companies. In four years, they’ve gone from replacing Act! at a one company to handling the heavy duty high scale transactions at the some of the biggest companies in the world.
Weintein is a CTO. He knows the issues of the CIO. You can watch the video below to get more insight.
Serendipitously perhaps Appirio released a survey at the same time I was writing this post. So here are some solid figures from that survey that Appirio asked of CIOs:
- 60% of IT decision makers say cloud is better than on-premise in availability, TCO, and time to value
- 70% agree that cloud solutions have changed the role of IT
- 83% agree that cloud solutions helped them respond faster to the needs of business
The report is balanced. It covers misconceptions, cloud plans, and the issues cloud providers face. Check it out - the State of the Public Cloud Results is a must read for everyone in Information Technology.
What Glenn, Appirio, and the Appirio report show is that the public cloud is changing businesses, how businesses operate, how organizations compete. Companies that understand the issues – whatever decision they make – can avoid entropy and myopia.
The ones that don’t – they’ll be walking straight into the walls.