At IDC Directions 2008, David Tapper spoke about how Web 2.0 and globalization are profoundly transforming the way companies source (and deliver) IT and other services.
Within this broad theme, David explored which technologies companies see as most critical to transform themselves for this emerging world of flexible service delivery and consumption, citing a recent IDC survey of 236 line-of-business (LOB) executives and 268 CIOs and other IT executives. Here’s what he showed:
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This list of technologies is not an exhaustive one, but it does include some of the major ones I see organizations increasing their investments in today. Here are three of my takeaways from this survey:
- Good LOB and IT Exec Alignment. The top three “transformation technologies” – web services, virtualization and wireless/mobility – are the same for LOBs and IT executives. This consistency is pretty reassuring, suggesting good alignment between organizations’ business transformation decision-makers and technology decision-makers.
- Web services’ surprising #1 position for LOBs suggests the industry is crossing a critical chasm. As we’ve written, SOA – the architectural foundation for the next era of IT – will be most rapidly adopted when it is available not just as a set of standards and development tools, but within actual online business and consumer services. The surprising fact that line of business executives consider “web services” as the top transformation technology suggests we’re getting close to that time: the LOBs who responded to this survey are almost certainly not thinking about web services as XML, SOAP, WSDL or other technical standards, but as web-delivered (and SOA-enabled) services such as Software-as-a-Service, storage-as-a-service, online information services, and so forth. They’re getting the idea that the proliferation of SOA-enabled business, IT and consumer services available over the Internet will increase their ability to quickly expand their business capabilities and competitiveness.
- Virtualization is an obvious #1 for IT executives. It’s not a very surprising finding that IT executives’ #1 technology for transformation is virtualization. The quest to consolidate, rationalize and simplify access to IT resources – most visibly data center resources – is being driven by the dual imperatives of efficiency and speed. Virtualization, in its many forms, is – and will be – a runaway #1 concern for IT execs for the next several years. Web services’ strong #2 position for IT executives makes sense as well, for two reasons: 1) as we noted above, it’s the #1 choice for IT executives’ internal customers, LOB executives; and 2) web services is, of course, one form of virtualization.
So what do these perspectives on transformational IT mean for CIOs and their IT management teams, and by extension, to the IT suppliers serving them? When I presented these findings at IDC’s recent U.S. IT Forum in Boston, I offered two questions with which CIOs should be challenging themselves:
- Are you and your team sufficiently focused on this wave of transforming technologies – investing in the technologies, re-skilling to take advantage of these technologies, and selecting suppliers who have competency in these technologies?
- Do you have enough of an “R&D” culture within your IT organization, to see the next wave of transforming technologies coming?
These challenge questions are uncomfortable for many CIOs, because they naturally lead to disruptive decisions about IT investments, skills and culture. But they are vital questions to address, for one obvious reason: the companies that can answer “Yes” to both are the ones that will be prepared for the in-process global commerce revolution that David Tapper was talking about at Directions.