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Tii or T2i or Ti(squared)

by Mark P. McDonald  |  September 20, 2012  |  2 Comments

Technology, innovation and information (Tii) how about that for the name of a re-imagined IT organization?  It’s a response to the question what should IT be called in the future?  I offer this one as a concept that brings together a deeper response to the future of the resources, responsibilities and contribution of the construct that is now known as IT.

As I talk with people, work with leading CIOs, listen to the frustration and facilitate the discussions on the future  one thing becomes clear – the classical notion of IT is just that – classical – like Latin.  A renaissance of the classic IT model, where things go back to being the way they are only better – neoclassical IT – is the last thing we need.

Take a step back and think about the nature of the resources, responsibilities, capacities of the current ‘IT’ organization.  Now project them against the future abilities, contribution and scale of new technologies.  A result could be that others things become more important, some go into the ‘back-cloud’ and others just disappear.

Three things remain, three things that every organization has to focus on and focus with a clear set of resources are: technology, information and innovation.  Now you can swap the order if you want: technology, innovation and information.  Tii or T2I or T2i if you find meaning in the punctuation.

Unpacking each provides an idea of how this type of scope shapes the transition from current classical IT into a new T2I type organization.  So lets take each one in turn to see how a change in name might reflect a change in focus and purpose.

Technology First

Technology rules!  Because technology is drives the future. Technology is greater than IT. Technology > IT .  By technology, I mean things like mobile, social, big data, remote sensing, near field communications, WiMax etc.  These are technologies that are radically different form the ones CIOs and IT professionals normally work with.  The future of these resources is less about creating new ‘management’ systems with three letter acronyms and more about digitizing the business with technology.

These technologies are active participants and contributors to business activity and the customer experience.  Organizations need to get in front of these technologies as they are in the front of the business.  This is a significant departure from passive, transaction accounting OLTP systems.  Resources that understand how the technology works in the different paths to digitalizing the business are part of T2i.

That type of technology knowledge existed at the start of client server, but disappeared in the face of packaged technology solutions and services.  It is a type of technical knowledge that comes back, not that you need to know how the smartphone works inside, but how those capabilities can be used to create value, results and revenue.

Innovation Always

Creating ways to make value accessible to customers that lead to new sources of addressable results and revenues.   This is business innovation based on the expanded abilities of digital technology.  Finding new ways of creating value goes beyond the notion implementing business-defined requirements.  It has to for the simple reason that the business does not know what it needs to create value in this environment.

Innovation is everyone’s responsibility and everyone’s opportunity to build relationships across the organization as diversity leads to creativity.  Avoid creating a dedicated innovation group, as saying this is the innovative team is the same as calling everyone else a flounder.

Consider creating a social/open innovation center within IT.  Social in that anyone can come and contribute – anyone in the organization, customers, etc.  Open in terms of providing the tools, sandboxes, data and other resources for building pilots, creating video scenarios, etc.

Information Everywhere

Information has the same relationship in digital economy as crude oil has in today’s economy.  Mark Raskino provided that analogy in describing how information fuels digital businesses.  Information in this sense is broader than Big Data or Analytics to encompass the context, location, condition, and unstructured and other forms of storable awareness that digital technology continually makes available.

Where that information is, how it’s accessed, applied and engaged by systems, equipment and most importantly real people require specialized skills.  Properly applied the combination gives people greater control over their experience, radically simplifies the business and unlocks behavior as a source of value in ways that go beyond price / performance tradeoffs.

Information in motion is information that generates value.  Putting what you know to work throughout the organization and across customer value propositions represents a critical capability in a modern organization.  A T2I organization needs to go well beyond accounting for information at rest, on financial spreadsheets, portals and transaction systems.

The Future of Technology, Information and Innovation

What is the future of the organization we currently call IT?  I do not know for certain, other than the modern industrial model [MPM8] no longer has the same relevance as it did in the past.  It is time to think about the need for these resources, their value to the organization and how they fit into the organization.   That requires going back to basics, and what are the basics of this set of resources – Technology, Information and Innovation.  They form the context for the production function of an organization currently called IT.

So to get the ball rolling, consider the term T2I or T2i or Tii or Ti2 replacing the term IT and redefining technology, information and innovation as resources within an organization.  It’s a start, and welcomes your thoughts.

Category: 2013  management  re-imagine-it  

Tags: future-of-it  it-organization  it-strategy  re-imagine-it  symposium  

Mark P. McDonald
8 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-author of The Social Organization with Anthony Bradley. Read Full Bio

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