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Trends, Fads, and Strategy

by Jack Santos  |  January 2, 2013  |  Comments Off

What you can count on at the end of every year is “Year in Review”,  and “Crystal Ball” type of articles, blog posts, etc.  I suppose it gives one a sense of continuity and anchor on an annual basis.

In IT, and technology strategy in general, it often comes down to trying to divine the trends from the fads.  This piece from the WSJ by Tom Davenport certainly focuses on that – Tom sets our minds at rest in proclaiming “Big Data” a trend, versus a fad.

So be it.

In my mind, its not so much whether a certain topic is a trend or a fad, but what the subtext is –  and what are the underlying forces that may make a difference in how we make our companies, and ourselves,  successful.  This is true not only for the CEO or CIO, but for everyone in the enterprise – from the janitor on up (I used to say mail room; but with email, that is going the way of the horse and buggy).

Trends and  Fads (T&F) are just shorthand for our feeble minds – ways of thinking about, and remembering, potentially important things in our lives, meta-events – so to speak.  It’s not the T&F itself  – they are just sign posts –  but the underlying implications that are important.  Tie-dye, pet rocksfurbys – all fondly remembered as fads.   But the implications (in order) – 60s upheaval,  Luddite-like reaction to increasing game sophistication, and (conversely) the dawning of robotics in an early form…those were the underlying aspects of the fads that  could be the subtext, and expose what we may call a trend, but is really an implication that will cause us to change our strategy, or our future actions.

You may even call it “searching for patterns”…. or paying attention to details.

What it came down to me, as a CIO , was priorities and timing.  Paying attention to T&F was just a start. Realizing the underlying implications was the analysis.  Setting priorities, planning , execution – that was the end game.

The current fads are Facebook, Linked in, and Twitter.  The underlying trend is the growth of social media.  Ari Herzog, A friend of mine, blogged about his take on these, and metaphors for them.  It’s clear what he is going to do as a result of his assessment of these T&Fs.

So…T&F is nice…but the real question you should be asking yourself is:  what does it mean, and what should you do?

Category: cio-issues  future  management  managment  social-media  strategic-planning  

Tags: cio  it-relevance  management  predictions  strategy  words  

Jack Santos
Research VP
5 years at Gartner
40 years IT industry

Jack Santos is a Research Vice President with Gartner. He is part of the Gartner for Technical Professionals product and focuses on professional effectiveness for IT practitioners. Mr. Santos covers organizational development, leadership and management practices, governance, and innovation and collaboration approaches. Read Full Bio

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