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IT needs to create POP Tech by being more like POP art.

by Mark P. McDonald  |  October 3, 2012  |  Comments Off on IT needs to create POP Tech by being more like POP art.

The Grand Pacific Le Daiba is hosting this year’s Gartner Symposium and ITXpo.  It’s a great hotel and location.  The hotel is also featuring the art of Mr. Brainwash.  That is the moniker of Los Angeles-based filmmaker and POP artist Thierry Guetta.  Thierry is also the subject of a rather interesting documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop” (2010). I will withhold my opinion of his art, but there are other artists like BanksyShepard Fairey and Andy Warhol, etc.

What is POP art?

According to Wikipedia: POP art is an art movement that challenges the traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular culture such as advertising, news, etc. POP art, material is sometimes visually removed from its known context, isolated, and/or combined with unrelated material. For example, Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans.  POP art employs aspects of mass culture, such as advertising, comic books and mundane cultural objects. Much of POP art is considered incongruent, as the conceptual practices that are often used make it difficult for some to readily comprehend.

In other words, POP art takes familiar images and concepts and mashes them together to create new images that challenge conventional thinking.  POP art is a mash-up that seeks to communicate new and different messages using familiar objects and images.  It is reuse that is often taken to the extreme.

Pop art stands in contrast to other forms of art, that concentrate on creation and representation presented in unique pieces of art rather than in ruthless replication and repetition.

I would paste a few POP art pictures in here, but one thing POP artists are pretty good at is copyright protection.  So just search on the words POP art and you will get a representative sampling.

POP ART ideas need to become part of  IT

It represents and idea that CIOs should pay attention to and consider for the future as they will increasingly meet demand for new innovations by putting familiar things together in new ways.   Consider connecting the customer master file with Google Maps and mobile technology to create a ‘sales localizer’ tool.  The result is a new capability from existing and stable sets of technology.  That is just an example of the types of applications that will be required in the future.

Artesian IT?

CIOs think of themselves along the lines of traditional artists, creating individual solutions with outstanding value, effort and skill.   They focus on fitting things into their individual context, customizing configurations, implementing and integrating with one of a kind or best of breed systems, etc.  It is a model that is as far from POP art as possible.

A traditional artist may complete a few hundred works in their lifetime.  It is relatively small body of work.  The POP artist in contrast creates hundreds of works per year, via different versions, color schemes, repetitions, etc.  POP artists seek to overwhelm the senses, sensibilities and accessibility of art.

Overwhelming business issues with technology – a POP approach

CIOs will have to overwhelm the organization with technology to meet demands for innovation, experimentation and innovation.  Overwhelm in the senses that there is a constant stream of solutions that hit the market, some will stick and others will fall off, but the company is always experimenting and always learning.

Now you might say that is impossible given the security, data integrity and other requirements for IT systems.  You would be right if we were talking about traditional or artisan IT systems, you would be partially right if we are talking about POP tech.

When to POP and when to drop back into traditional IT

Partially right in the sense that POP tech works best under certain circumstances and it becomes silly under others

Some of the circumstances or conditions that support POP tech include:

  • Consuming information rather than creating it in order to free devices and applications to innovate while maintaining economic and integrity control of transactions and information.
  • Recognizing that the people using technology are people seeking goals not criminals requiring control, auditing and restrictions. POP tech is accessible, not just in terms of being usable, but in the expectation that providing technology to people will create good things.
  • Concentrating on the completion of tasks in context rather than seeking to support long running end-to-end business processes.  We live in a world of tasks, requests and actions, particularly when you are working in the customer’s context.  Only clerks in the home office are able to sit in and wade through all the screens to complete a long running transaction.
  • Leveraging the public infrastructure, its capabilities, its capacities and service levels as being ‘good enough’ to be business feasible. POP tech works because it fits into the environment rather than fighting it.
  • Implemented with existing resources, information, architecture and standards.  Push the envelope in terms of information presentation, task support, design and coolness.  Leave the technical risk to situations where its business justified.
  • Plagurize existing systems, interfaces, information and structures.  If you are stealing from yourself with pride, then chances are you are creating something that is likely to work and be easier to deploy.

The market for POP tech is bigger than you might imagine

On the surface these considerations sound somewhat narrow and limited.  But consider how much of your daily work is in providing information, investigating status, sharing ideas and how little is pounding in transactions and the market potential begins to take shape.  Add to that the reality that most organizations have the transaction generating systems they need and future applications will be more POP in nature.

It is clear that there is a big market potential for POP tech.

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Category: 2013  amplifying-the-enterprise  re-imagine-it  strategic-planning  

Tags: it-leadership  it-strategy  strategy-and-planning  symposium  technology  technology-leadership  

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a Vice President and Fellow Emeritus in Gartner for General Managers Program.

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