Gartner’s Transformation of IT Strategy


I just attended the keynote at Gartner’s Symposium ITxpo 2011 in Orlando, Florida, where the Gartner team did a pretty good job outlining today’s best strategic framework for IT. It runs something like this:

    • Post-modernism

    • Simplicity

    • Creative destruction

    Post-modernism refers to a complete rethinking of approaches to running a business—disconnecting it from any particular physical or even virtual locations, for example, and thinking of it as existing anywhere its possible customers exist. Simplicity refers mostly to something I’ve been thinking more and more about lately, the user interface or user experience. React to and understand user needs first when building applications and services in order to simplify IT for your business; then worry about feature sets. And creative destruction, which should be familiar to anyone who has been following Cameron Sturdevant’s work on virtualization, refers to the need to identify and kill unneeded applications, processes, services, or systems in order to make room for more fruitful ones. This “room” is physical, fiscal, and temporal as you free up computing resources, budgets, and employees time.

    This three-part framework is a very useful way of thinking strategically about your approach to IT when you are lining it up with your organization’s overall goals and needs.

    My only criticism of the keynote isn’t a very strong one, but is one that I think is a good level-setter for anyone inhabiting the “real world” of IT. Most of the examples the analysts gave, and most of the descriptions they provided, related to consumer uses of technology today. Shopping, mobile commerce, Facebook, and other similar consumer experiences informed the keynote, rather than (for example) business processes or user support.

    This makes one wonder to what degree, realistically speaking, Gartner is informing their framework with regard to the users who represent 90% of IT customers, the internal customers—employees and executives. Because the opportunities in this framework are much greater than just creating and delivering products to your external customer base, whether they’re consumers or business clients.

    We should all be looking at retail shopping, mobile commerce, Facebook, and all the many other highly dynamic technological developments in the consumer world to inspire and guide us throughout the business of IT today. But we need guidance in this. Though it’s easy to envision app stores and their usefulness in IT, it’s not so easy to see how we’d take advantage of social location-based services like Foursquare.

    This is not to say at all that Gartner doesn’t very much inhabit the real world of IT, by the way. This was a keynote, after all, meant to inspire and provide us with direction, not be complete or down to earth. (And Gartner SVP of Research Peter Sondergaard, at one small moment in the keynote, did point out that Gartner’s own projections show cloud computing as remaining only a fraction of overall IT spending for some time to come.) This is just to point out the need that exists at the second stage if you start to work within the framework Gartner laid out today. And that’s the need for the creativity it takes to see how consumer technology experiences can apply to the everyday of IT.