Some Final Thoughts from Gartner

By Guy Currier  |  Posted Friday, October 21, 2011 17:10 PM

Gartner’s Symposium ITxpo just finished up in Orlando, Florida, and as an attendee I received a nice thank-you note from the Gartner promotions team. It was a good show, and I very much recommend it to anyone who can go. You get plenty of opportunities to interact with a wide variety of IT vendors in a pretty neutral setting, and even better, you get plenty of brain-tickling from the smart analysts at Gartner.

What did I learn at Symposium? Eric Lundquist and I did a segment Wednesday for the CIO Insight show on The Pulse Network (excuse the horrible video quality—I have serious work to do on my office Skype connection). We’re going to do another one next Wednesday, so please tune in. We’re talking about the various specific trends and viewpoints, like IT consumerization, tablets, or network build-outs, that we saw there.

But one thing Gartner is especially good at, I think, is putting everything in IT into context and giving us a kind of a strategic approach or framework for thinking that helps us understand what direction we’re going, or should go. In that spirit I’d like to offer my overall sense of what I learned this week.

I think it’s pretty clear that cloud computing, mobility, and their accompanying consumerization are creating unexpected and very large opportunities and risks for IT from mid-management up. Starting with the risks, I think I only have to point out that now many, many more end-users and executives know (or think they know) technology, are driving the adoption of some kinds of IT over others, and are vastly expanding their use of the information infrastructure without consulting or sometimes even informing IT organizations.

So much for that. The opportunities, though, are also great, and I think pretty new. We have the chance to be sought out, respected, and elevated in a way we couldn’t think of before. Before, we were the plumbers handling the pipes and maybe putting in some nice tile in the kitchen. But now we can easily be looked at as the architects of the whole structure. So much experience by consumers—meaning, by end-users and executives—with the trade and practice of IT gives them new understanding of and appreciation for our work. And our natural desire to meet them at least half-way is shaping the way we serve them: not just as a support group, but as a place for strategic collaboration.

If we can continue to think outside of the products and into the business strategy, that is. That has always been key. It’s just that this time, the door is open to go in there, and don’t have to market ourselves quite as hard. Welcome news, I would think, to a famously marketing-challenged group.