By 2020, IT will be embedded in business teams using IT to differentiate the business

From the increasing use of embedded systems to analyst reports arguing that the “Internet of Things” is coming, I see a lot of evidence that the role of intelligent, connected devices in our lives is going to increase. I believe that by 2020, business units will develop much more computing expertise in order to create "smart things" like smart cars, refrigerators, home heating and cooling systems and water recycling systems.

 

I believe the business will also use this computing expertise to create back-end cloud services to add value to these smart things.  By 2020 I believe we will have business teams doing computing themselves and the increasing adoption of cloud services will mean that much of the operations work done by IT today is now done by public cloud providers.

 

This means that the way IT delivers value in 2020 will be different. By 2020, I believe that IT departments will add value by becoming part of business teams.

 

The difference between being involved with the business and committed to the business

In IT you often hear talk about the need for IT to partner with the business. When I was a freshly minted graduate starting out in the world of computing, our R&D section manager was always talking about the difference between commitment and involvement – or, as he put it, between the pig and hen. He used to say, "when you have bacon and eggs for breakfast, the hen was involved but the pig was committed to the project." 

 

As a business person of 30 years, I've started to understand what he was talking about. If someone is allocated to a project team, it's important to know if that person is involved or committed. Are they measured in the same way as everyone else on the project team, or can they hop off the bus if things don't go well, with no consequence to career or salary?  If this person has the same goals – the same upside and downside – as other team members, then this person truly becomes part of the team.

 

So, by 2020, I think that IT people will have to become pigs not hens. They have to be in project teams, measured the same way as the project teams, with the same upsides and downsides as the project teams.

 

We have a great example of this with this Enterprise 20/20 project. We have an IT person in the team. Not, allocated to help us, but actually in the team.

 

Today, few business teams have maximised their use of IT

I also believe that there are very few business project teams who are maximising their use of IT to provide competitive advantage, innovation and efficiency. Most business processes are not optimal - they are not as competitive as they could be, they are not as easy as they could be for the customer, and they are probably not as efficient as they could be.

 

Most business people I work with have a pretty good idea how to make their business processes better. So why don’t they? Oftentimes IT is the stumbling block. To get on IT’s project calendar is difficult, and many business people just give up.

 

The same is often true of the user interfaces created for customers. Business people know how to make them better - easier for the customer or more efficient - but the block is most often the IT department changing the app.

 

When it comes to data analysis this problem is even more acute. I work in the business, and don't know of a single business person who feels that they have the data analysis they need. Now, business people sometimes look for the impossible – for insight from data that can never deliver it – but my experience is that that is not yet the problem. It would be nice if it were.

 

Cloud will take work from IT - but if IT works in the business, it will increase its value

I believe that having IT people in key project teams will really help IT. The IT side of business processes and the application optimisation are not things that you can bolt on afterwards. If IT is in the team from the start, better processes and better application interfaces can be created from the start.

 

So, by 2020, when cloud is used for non-core applications and business processes, where test and dev environments are provided by public cloud, where business units have their own computing experts to create smart things and cloud service to these smart things, central IT must figure out how it is going to provide value to the business. I believe that being part of business teams, creating differentiated and innovative business processes, applications and data analyses is the way to do this.

 

HP has started work on a crowd sourced vision of the world in 2020. We have broken the vision into a number of chapters. One of these chapters concerns the IT department of 2020 and the CIO of 2020.

 

If you would like to contribute to our 2020 vision - either adding content or commenting on existing content - please go to the Enterprise 20/20 web site and dive in!

 

Related Posts

What will the IT department of 2020 actually do?

 

 Author : Mike Shaw

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About the Author
Mike has been with HP for 30 years. Half of that time was in R&D, mainly as an architect. The other 15 years has been spent in product manag...


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