Last night was gala event for nearly 1,500 guests in black tie in probably the most up-market marquee in the city – Battersea Park Event.  It was the “Oscars for the IT industry” – the 2010 UK IT Industry Awards sponsored by BCS and computing. A staggering number of entries were sifted through by judges to whittle it down to a shortlist of 10 companies in each category. Face to face interviews with each shortlisted company determine the winner and Silver and Bronze medallists which were announced on the night.

So why the title ”The Last Supper?

The IT industry that goes through dramatic paradigm shifts every 10 years. Mainframe to client server. Client server to web. The next cycle is upon us. But this time it is more than just someone with a technical interest is concerned with.

It is touching every areas of the business and reaching up to the Board room. At a time when IT is even more critical to running the business, it is questioning the credibility and value of the IT Department.

It is changing the relationship between the business and IT. But more fundamentally it is going to change the structure and skill set of the IT Department and CIO. This could turn career paths on their head. The CIO may not be promoted based on a strong technical background, but on their business, commercial and programme management track record.

And could spell the end to the current IT Department as we know it.

So what is so disruptive?  In a word CLOUD.  The cloud is a concept that has been around for years as hosting and ASP but the term “Cloud” as struck a chord at every level and area of business and into the consumer world. Combine the ease of access via the web on PCs, laptops, tablets and phones with rapid development platforms and you have really compelling cloud applications launched every day:

  • Want something to manage your passwords: tick.
  • Track your corporate assets: tick
  • Constantly sync your most important files between all your devices at work and home: tick

What we are seeing is the second Dot Com boom.  The first was primarily around consumer eCommerce and spawned $billlion revenue companies like Google, Amazon, eBay. This time around is about corporate applications and the first $billlion revenue company to emerge is probably Salesforce.com, but others are not far behind.

So the IT department cannot afford to spend 70%+ running current applications. It cannot afford to ignore the impact the cloud will have on corporate IT strategy, yet a staggering 95% of companies do not have a cloud strategy and only 20% say they have the resources to put it in place. It cannot afford to let the business users drive corporate IT strategy.

If IT do not take the lead business users will vote with their browsers and start using 3rd party cloud based applications.  Forrester Research’s recent view is that already 1 in 3 are downloading apps or using cloud apps without the mandate of the IT department. We are calling it the Stealth Cloud

Businesses are becoming used to a great user experience, ease of access, rapid innovation cycles and rapid ROI from these apps. They do not realise or put a value on the security, scalability and robustness of the corporate applications provided by the IT department. The cloud, to their mind’ is underlining the poor performance by IT.  This is not fair.

But, the cloud could be a way of building a bridge with the business, providing non-core apps more quickly and reducing the development backlog. With a platform like Force.com from Salesforce.com you could even get end users developing their own applications.

Here is an approach for getting control of the cloud – PASTA

So the IT department will have to change from being developers, owners and defenders of technology solutions. They will become business advisors, architects, procurers, integrators and managers of IT vendors.

An example is Nimbus. A rapidly growing cloud based process management software company. So they have the in-house technical skills to build anything.  But all the core applications are in the cloud from Salesforce.com and developed by our Business Excellence team on the Force.com platform. Our core IT team is very small and they worry about the enterprise architecture, managing our relationship Salesforce.com and providing kit (desktops, laptops, tablets and phones) to staff.

Nimbus is a glimpse of the future – IT Department 2.0.   Which is why they were placed 2nd at the IT Awards in the category “IT Department of the Year” against companies like Capital One Bank, Procter & Gamble and Department of Word and Pensions.  Yet we have only 4 people in our “official” IT department but over 100 when you consider the 3rd parties

So I like to think myself as a disciple at the Last Supper, not Pontious Pilate – but those who will not be at the table next year (and many won’t be) may not agree.

 

PS  He is a list of of the Alternative IT Industry Awards dreamt up by the business users

–          Most computer kit mislaid/stolen

–          Most unused software purchased but not licenses

–          Shortest CIO career

–          Poorest outsourcing decision

–          Greatest negative ROI

–          Worst place for a server farm

–          Longest time to deploy a off-the-shelf new application

 

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