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Reflections on IDC’s Worldwide CIO Agenda 2014 Top 10 Predictions

By Paul Chapman

Paul Chapman-crioAs I read through IDC’s Worldwide CIO Agenda 2014 Top 10 Predictions, I was reminded that in the world of IT, one thing is certain: change. The roles of the CIO and the IT organization overall continue to evolve and increase in complexity at the rapid pace of technology evolution. The IDC report tackles this complexity, presenting areas of focus and solid guidance around critical topics. Here are a few key topics that caught my eye.

Addressing the Skills Gap
While IDC’s first prediction regarding a need for CIOs to focus on innovation and business strategy isn’t news, it reinforces a truth we as IT executives know all too well. The difficulty in shifting from technology services to business strategy and services stems directly from the skills gap. In my organization, I see us trying to move people from deep technical roles into data analytics roles, and it’s not something they gravitate towards. For example, a network engineer is not necessarily the best person to do network forensics. The focus on business services will happen gradually, as new skills are recruited or trained into mature organizations.

The skills gap shows up as an important theme in the report, which says, not surprisingly, that new skills are required for these new cloud-related jobs. I equate the situation today to placing an ad for an Oracle database administrator 25 years ago. You wouldn’t be able to find one because they didn’t exist. We need to create new roles, like cloud services administrators. At VMware, we are developing a college grad program where we immediately put new hires into new types of roles to help seed the acceleration.

A Need for Mobile Services
That leads directly into the report’s call for a rapid shift to ensure support for the “ubiquitous mobile and socially connected lifestyle.” IDC suggests that within the next 12 months organizations “create a portfolio of mobile services for inclusion in the IT service catalog.” This is bigger and broader than mobile. It’s imperative that every organization builds a holistic strategy around end-user computing. IT may place more heavy emphasis on technology but this is really about organizational change management. New generations of employees embrace change much faster then previous digital transients; they adapt much faster, they consume technology differently, and their expectations are different.

New Cloud Security Concerns
IDC also predicts increased exposure to risk through cloud adoption in an attempt to reduce IT costs. Of course, security is always a major concern, but we have to keep in mind the distinction between private and public cloud options. On the public side, cloud services companies’ reputations depend on their ability to provide the best security available. Many organizations worry too much about doubling-down on security when the service provider has it covered more fully than most companies could do themselves internally.

On the flip side, some companies will never move to public cloud because of security and IP protection concerns. That doesn’t prevent them from taking a similar internal private cloud approach. You can take the same kinds of capabilities, flexibility, and agility from a public cloud and build your own internal private cloud. This way you can control the security.

Outsourced Enterprise Architecture?
On the topic of employing consultants to support enterprise architecture, I’m not necessarily sold. I think enterprise architecture will change drastically in the coming years, and what we build today may be obsolete fairly quickly. I see enterprise architecture shifting to a central focus around the network and the data center. We’re moving so much compute into massive data centers and they all have to be connected together; performance and quality of service have to be the focus. Architecture will need to have a heavy focus on networking and physical location. You can’t just push everything out to the cloud and expect them to perform—you need to know where things are and have the right tools and forensics is place to proactively manage quality of service.

Budgets Shift to LOB
When it comes to shifting budget to the lines of business (LOB) for third-platform investments, this typically means the IT organization processes do not get the LOB what they need fast enough. This shift isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Investments in some business processes are better off using an external provider. IT should manage the crown jewels: the cash register, the strategic things that differentiate you in the market place, and the things that need strong protection. Finance has to play a bigger role to say it’s okay for people outside of IT to buy services independently. I think it’s a good thing as long as IT embraces it and partners to deliver, instead of resisting and trying to control it. At the end of the day, the company is paying for all of it. At VMware we embrace this model and partner with our LOB leaders and come up with the right decisions together.

I highly recommend reviewing the IDC paper—there are interesting new insights alongside some core points that bear repeating.

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Paul Chapman is Vice President, Global Infrastructure & Cloud Operations at VMware. You can follow him on Twitter @PaulChapmanVM