CIOs must battle ‘software sprawl’ to produce a more agile business

My IDC report, “Managing the Application Portfolio for Digital Transformation” ($$$$), explores how CIOs are streamlining their application software portfolios — for both on-premise and cloud-based software — as part of their journey to the digital enterprise. Leading-edge CIOs know that application rationalization and modernization needs to be a sustained capability, not just a one-time effort.

But enforcing software standards won’t win any popularity contests, and CIOs will need to deal with pockets of resistance where user groups have a tight grip on nonstandard applications. But relentless CIOs are taming their application sprawl to produce more agile businesses and free up resources for innovation.

The report identifies several best practices for getting control over the portfolio:

  • Start with a business-backed governance process (for political cover)
  • Manage the application portfolio in the context of digital transformation and business agility
  • Deal with pockets of resistance (or your efforts will be doomed by in-fighting)
  • Manage cloud-based applications to avoid “cloud sprawl”

The report features insights from Peter Weis, CIO at Matson Inc. (a $2 billion shipping company); David Jarvis, former CIO of Honeywell Aerospace; Carlos Garcia, CIO at Alvarez & Marsal (a global consulting firm); and Philip Stevens, CIO of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (an $8.3 billion retail operation).

Government workers need digital tools to meet citizens’ high expectations for service

I contributed — as a subcontractor to Lundberg Media — to a new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services about the use of “Digital Tools for Public Works” (free PDF to download).

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The report finds that government agencies are slowly embracing the use of digital tools to empower the firstline workers who provide public services. The applications range from providing tablets to welfare caseworkers in the field, to the ability to pinpoint the location of a tire-crunching pothole with a geotagged smartphone photo.

Government executives and CIOs want to meet the high service expectations of a citizenry that has become accustomed to the speed and convenience of paying bills or ordering pizzas and car rides on mobile apps. But extremely tight government budgets (and silo-ed data) have prevented many agencies from moving as quickly as they might like.

 

CIOs NOT working with start-ups are falling behind

My IDC study, “Engaging with Start-Ups to Accelerate Digital Innovation” ($$$$) explores how CIOs can tap into the start-up ecosystem to accelerate digital transformation while managing the inherent risks of relying on start-ups for enterprise IT.

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Engaging with start-ups requires a substantial time commitment, including due diligence to avoid the pitfalls. But CIOs say that partnering with start-ups can lead to a big payoff — more innovation from emerging technologies and a competitive advantage for the business — even if some deals go sour.

There are side benefits, too: CIOs say that working with innovative start-ups can re-energize the IT group and give you a chance to peek into the future of IT.

The report covers the following practices:

  • Making the commitment to actually engage with the start-up community
  • Educating the C-suite about the risks and rewards
  • Due diligence: Asking the right questions about start-ups
  • Managing the relationship and risks

The insights come from interviews with Bryan Muehlberger (CIO of Beachbody LLC), Aaron Gette (CIO of The Bay Club Company), and Jesse Carrillo (CIO at Hines, a real estate company).

Pixabay photo released under Creative Commons CC0.

Dear CIOs: Speed matters

It’s time to hit the accelerator and turn that sluggish IT department into a high-velocity producer of business results.

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Top CIOs are speeding up the IT department’s ability to deliver business value — at the ever-quickening pace of the digital economy. Traditional IT department practices, with long lead times for requirements gathering, coding, testing, and adding hardware, can’t match the needs of today’s businesses, where “time to market” is measured in weeks, not years. As John Marcante, global CIO at Vanguard, urges his IT department: “Deliver business value at start-up speed.”

My IDC report, Accelerating IT’s Delivery of Business Value in the Digital Economy ($$$$), provides peer advice about how to:

  • Develop an IT culture built for speed.
  • Exploit cloud infrastructure and rapid application development.
  • Slash IT complexity through standardization.
  • Streamline IT processes by busting bureaucracy.

In addition to an interview with Vanguard’s John Marcante, the report includes valuable insights from Niel Nickolaisen, CTO at O.C. Tanner, and Greg Tacchetti, CIO at State Auto Insurance.

Pixabay photo released under Creative Commons CC0.

CIOs: The systems that got you here won’t get you there

Leading CIOs are working to escape the grip of outdated IT, which is impeding their efforts to compete in the digital economy. Why? It’s hard to be a digital innovator if your technology is anchored in the past. Plus, the IT staffers who know how to run the old systems are retiring.

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My IDC report on “Breaking Free of Legacy Systems” ($$$$) identifies the best practices of three CIOs: Michael Macrie, senior vice president and CIO at Land O’Lakes Inc.; Kevin Steele, CIO at the National Restaurant Association; and Anil Cheriyan, then-CIO at SunTrust Banks Inc.

The report covers how CIOs can:

  • Educate the C-suite about technical debt
  • Analyze legacy system costs and risks, then prioritize modernization
  • Develop roadmaps for modernizing legacy systems
  • Manage the IT talent issues: recruitment, retraining, and retirement

Related:

Pixabay photo released under Creative Commons CC0.