Most research organizations and industry commentators are making their predictions for 2017 and, almost without exception, the rise of artificial intelligence, the internet of things and bots are at the top of the list. With these technologies sufficiently maturing into potential mainstream solutions, the opportunity to become an early adopter dwindles every day. But for CIOs, there's a bigger issue at play than mere bragging rights: Business can use these emerging technologies at the same time as the IT department.
What technology availability means for CIOs
Many AI and IoT technologies are being tested and distributed through the consumer market, offering access to anyone. As a result, these emerging technologies may enter into an organization through business leadership—who demand rapid adoption—and bypass traditional IT governance along the way.
An adaptive new model for IT
In conjunction with increasingly diverse business requirements, this new direction of travel for technology adoption requires a highly adaptive IT operating model. This model must enable and support multiple groups of technology service consumers and meet changing business conditions and demands.
If we accept this changing paradigm, then we must also accept that our conventional approach to change and development is being challenged. The speed and complexity of technological change must give rise to a new method of operating. We are no longer able to operate a centralized approach of approval and release; we must find a far more decentralized approach to enable the flexibility that our organizations require to thrive in the current technological revolution.
Requirements for change
To enable this change, we must understand what our new service catalogues will contain, how we will manage costs and how we will create mechanisms that allow users to self-manage their technology environments in a safe, secure and effective way. We need to define an approach that provides us with a greater understanding not only of what we are doing but how we are doing it.
All emerging technologies bring with them the need for greater processing power, heightened security and increased storage for the significant volumes of data they generate. Although the exploration and adoption of many of these technologies will be completed within the business, it will always fall to the IT function to provide these underpinning elements.
Within IT we must create an infrastructure capable of supporting these changing needs not only in terms of capacity but also in terms of performance, availability and security. IT will also have to continue to integrate multiple systems from a variety of external vendors and gather and aggregate data from many sources.
We are now firmly within the age of disruption, and the role of the CIO and IT has changed from a response-driven service center to a proactive source of competitive value within the business. IT must constantly scan the business to identify trends and change as early as possible. When changes are identified, IT needs to understand the incomplete technology visions and treat this as an opportunity for development. Perhaps most importantly of all, IT must build agility into its DNA to allow time and space for trial and error. Allowing for errors and having the agility to correct them will establish IT as a focal point for foresight and innovation that can help shape business strategy.
The emerging technology landscape will redefine much of our lives and the success of many organizations will depend on how effectively they embrace these technologies. 2017 is most definitely the year of change. For many organizations succeed and thrive, IT must change.