YES – The New IT Strategy

Cute puppyThe consumerization of IT has made saying “NO” the new career shortening event for CIO’s unwilling or unable to deliver high quality services in a user driven world of choice, self service, and individualized computing. Today marks the day leading the department of NO is over and the beginning of a new IT strategy.

Saying Yes

The role of CIO is to support innovation and alignment not constrain it and that means saying”YES“. If you haven’t already learned this, you will soon enough. Perhaps, if you have been around long enough, you would remember earlier attempts to move in this direction. We started using governance phrases like “not no, just not now”, or “it’s not no, its how much”, and the wicked insulting phrase “good, fast and cheap pick any two.”

Why not simply just say YES? You’d be surprised how exhilarating it can be to have the confidence in your team and yourself to just let out a big YES at the next request that comes your way. Think of it like Request Roulette – and just say YES. Practice it with different inflections with me now – YES! yes YeS yyyeeSSS!

Consumerization of IT

I recently read the following quote in the book Brand Relevance by David Aaker which is a perfect illustration of how CIO’s should think about the consumerization of IT.

“it is useless to tell a river to stop running: the best thing is to know how to swim in the direction it is flowing” -Anonymous

I have used a similar idea that “you can’t stop users” which I vary to sometimes include not being able to stop faculty in discussing the incredible demands we are seeing from the consumerization of IT in the enterprise. From that perspective I recently challenged my team and the IT Governance Committee as to why we needed to care about which browser the user wanted to use. The strategy of saying Yes to the consumerization of IT means saying yes to the user choosing their browser. IT would formally support a college standard testing it with apps, but users could any browser they wanted.

The consumerization of IT also means the user assumes more responsibility for their choices. So if the user encountered a problem with a particular application given their choice of browser they would have to choose another browser – the supported one, or live with the issue. Similarly we did not need to care if the user preferred MS Office (local install, via Citrix, via Live@edu) or Google Apps. Instead saying Yes meant offering choice.

Our users are already making those choices and we need to facilitate them doing so without compromising security and making smart choices. In so many ways the idea of an IT Strategy of yes is an open choice strategy – browsers, devices, productivity tools, social networking and collaboration tools. This strategy acknowledges that a parochial mindset to controlling users who have access to a massive application store online and on their personal devices is ridiculous and a waste of your good energy. Even corporate IT has had to realize you can’t mandate like you used to.

CIO’s Job on Consumerization of IT

This is why Gartner describes the role of the CIO to be one of helping organizations and users navigate their choices – not limiting them. Higher education has strong tenants on freedom and choice. Our cultural and institutional values support openness and now as CIO we must too find ways to be responsive to the existing push and pull of the consumerization of IT and be ready for its evolution.

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