So 2016 is here and while it’s not a “special” year – such as 1984 or 2001 – it’s an important year for IT professionals. It’s a year that will see continued change in both the IT and business landscapes but, just as importantly, it also requires “people change.” Some of it will be very personal, in terms of new knowledge and skills, and some will be organizational – where the IT status quo needs a rethink.
From a personal development point of view, IT professionals will need to:
- Recognize the growing importance of CX (customer experience)
- Understand how consumerization is so much more than the “Consumerization of IT”
- Learn more about how corporate IT is advancing in exemplar organizations
And while these can be seen as “personal development” they also need to induce an organizational-change “knock on” – as there’s little point in one or more of an organization’s IT pros doing any of this if it doesn’t have a tangible, and hopefully positive, impact on IT and business operations.
From an organizational point of view, in addition to changes that will reflect CX, consumerization, and exemplar IT practices, IT professionals will also need to:
- Love and nurture developer talent
- Ensure that the IT management and security implications of the Internet of Things (IoT) have been considered and addressed
It’s definitely a diverse range of resolutions but they are, in my opinion, ultimately linked with a common goal of ensuring that the IT services delivered to customers or (internal) end users are as good as they can be. Or, if you have a different approach to IT service delivery, as good as they need to be.
Looking at each of these five New Year resolutions in a little more detail, starting with the customer and moving through to the technology:
- Recognize the growing importance of CX. It’s important to realize that CX is a different beast to UX (user experience) and UIs, including the “hows” and “whys.” So if they are not already in motion, start the business conversations about how IT (and the associated customer experience) will either make or break your company. And, as with the consumerization bullet below, educate all IT staff in how external customers and employees no longer see “just the technology.” Instead, they see, touch, and sense a cradle-to-grave service experience that just happens to have a technology component. Thus, for many IT professionals, it’s time to look up from the technology and beyond the cubicle, or data center, walls to see how technology is being used or more accurately “consumed,” and how its consumers “feel” about it.
- Understand how consumerization is so much more than the “Consumerization of IT.” That instead, employees now have rising, consumer-world-driven expectations of corporate IT per se. It’s important to recognize that the rise in the corporate use of personal devices, apps, and cloud services via BYOD and Shadow IT wasn’t a global “coincidence” – that these are instead a push-back to corporate IT supply consistently failing to meet business and employee demand. Whether it be related to the traditional IT delivery parameters of meeting functional and non-functional requirements, delivering to target, or coming in on budget, or less tangible variables based on the better experiences we receive with our personal-life purchases and service consumption. In 2016, corporate IT organizations need to better meet business expectations of IT services, but also for service, customer service, and support.
- Love and nurture developer talent. As companies (and their products and services) continue to be differentiated by how their software “delights” customers, good corporate IT developers will become more valuable (and scarcer). The need for increased business understanding, better solutions, quicker app development, and a greater ability to handle change will also offer up a fork in the app dev road. Should developers now be aligned to external-facing products and services? Or, one step further along, should developers move into individual business units and closer to the use-case scenarios for which they create code and services? Developers will in turn need to up their game, learning more about new development approaches and becoming fluent in multiple development languages.
- Learn more about how corporate IT is advancing in exemplar organizations. From DevOps, through the use of opinionated platform-as-a-service (PaaS) frameworks, to the growing use of public and hybrid cloud. My five New Year resolutions could have all been devoted to the changing technology landscape, but that would have overlooked the importance of my first three, people-related points. So while recognizing the importance of customers, employees, and developer talent in particular, IT professionals also need to learn more about many of the IT and management buzzwords that were thrown about in 2015. Such as: DevOps and “continuous delivery”; microservices and containers; how to benefit from the already-baked PaaS capabilities; exploiting hybrid and composite cloud; and “software-defined-everything.”
- Ensure that the IT management and security implications of the IoT have been considered and addressed. With a plan and suitable resources in place to protect business operations and its external reputation. It’s not just the commonly written about security issues and the potential for breach, with many IoT devices having insufficient security precautions. It’s also the fact that many existing IoT devices are not in corporate IT’s line-of-sight or have even been corporately “forgotten.” Then there are potential issues related to: the ability of the corporate network to deal with a vast influx of IoT devices, from IP address management to increased traffic levels; the lack of relevant IT skills, including the need to increase the level of automated IT management with the IoT; the ability to handle and benefit from the increased volumes of data (whether big data or not); and recognizing that IoT might need a different approach to cloud.
So 2016 offers up a number of challenges for IT professionals or, if your glass is half-full, a number of opportunities. What things do you think should be on an IT professional’s New Year resolution list?