There is no doubt about it; being a CIO is more difficult than ever. Once upon a time the life of an enterprise CIO was relatively straightforward. Of course we thought it was pretty damn complicated at the time, but looking back with the beauty of hindsight, knowing what we know now, we can see we had far fewer choices and far less risk to manage. BYOD has created it fairly complex for the CIO of today.
Enterprise IT done well goes unnoticed, it happens seamlessly, without interruption. Of course, everyone thinks they can ‘do IT’ better, little does the business know of your balancing of so many plates: corporate risk; data compliancy guru; malware guardian of the universe; 24x7x365 uptime, supplier lambaster and so on.
CIOs are rarely afforded the opportunity to be in the space they’d love to be in, the business of innovation. Innovation is globally recognised as the key to the success of any organisation. Without it you are dead in the water.
So where does that leave you?
All that clever, difficult to implement stuff is falling under ‘business as usual’ – you’ve just got to get it done and get it done good. Spend the money. Go safe, work with the big boys. Once it’s in place, constant tinkering and scope changes are hard and difficult.
To bring innovation CIOs are now afforded the opportunity to deliver workflow applications that speed up organisational mobility and efficiency, by layering it on top of those critical business systems.
It’s not a question any more – you need to automate your business processes to be competitive.
The demand on the CIO to build and maintain such applications of course is greater than ever. Without them, your business does not function. The next generation of workers are tech-savvy and want to leverage the automation benefits of software to make their work easier. You also need a way to drive that innovation without having to 10x your IT budget. Annoyingly success breeds success and the better you deliver the more they want.
This is not the agility you were looking for.
So how does a CIO facilitate business innovation and cross-organisation workflow efficiencies without compromising his architectural constraints and giving himself a problem for the future?
You need to think about it strategically before applying sticking plasters. Don’t rush to deliver a ‘mobile’ app. Yes, the business is saying they want it. But let’s be honest; even though they might know what they want, they aren’t so good at knowing what they need. You can fix the identified business issue, but don’t be led on the strategy for its creation and delivery.
Be API first. Be Native. Be multi-dimensional and multi-channel (device and platform agnostic). Connect to your core systems, don’t be forced to use those core systems to try and deliver the agility you are looking for. Majorly exceed expectations and save yourself future architectural headaches.
Whilst I think we are all in agreement that the days of ‘command and control’ IT policies are largely gone – although some settings still require it – the impact of a BYOD policy can make it difficult to navigate one’s way to success.
Suddenly you are expected to deliver apps that work on multiple devices, with multiple screen sizes, with a myriad of operating systems to consider. Clearly you don’t want to find yourself in the situation of building it once to fulfil a specific demand, then having to build it again and again for all the device and platform variations, and then tweaking each one as the demands on successful apps become more complex and move into the business critical realm. Far better to build it once and deploy many.
However, building your potential app multiple times may not even be the biggest barrier you face. BYOA (bring your own apps) is also very real. The next generation workforce intrinsically understands the value of software; not only do they want to bring their own devices, they want to bring their own apps, and also create their own. They can see how efficiencies brought forward in the consumer space can be applied to their work. And they need a platform that lets them do that.
There is certainly a cultural shift towards transparent and open working practices. SaaS has a lot to answer for. Putting the answer in the hands of tech-savvy business users could be seen as a risk, however largely this comes down to platform selection. CIOs don’t want to have to unpick a mess handed back to them. However, today’s best practice in application development provides a low-code alternative to older, code-centric, developers-only-need-apply app build methods. Gartner coined the phrase ‘citizen developer’ to encapsulate those folk that are on the right side of ‘geeky enough’ to build something in a low-code environment without creating a technical rats nest.
Let’s face facts. Those same ‘geeky enough’ folk are going to be the very same people that know that if they don’t get what they want from the IT team they can provision a server and software in the cloud with a credit card! Ouch. You are no longer in control.
Being clever with your platform choice means that you can:
- Save money and only build applications once
- Save resources and keep your super-coders busy elsewhere – and without needing them to be specialist in a dozen difference proprietary languages
- Afford the business the level of control they desire, without causing future architectural problems to solve
- Build ‘quick and dirty’ solutions to workflow problems that keep the business innovative and agile
- Build sophisticated applications that leave your critical data where is should be – in your secure data store
- Roll out applications that work on any desktop, device or operating system – offline or online
- Easily take back ownership of the apps when they need to be more complex
- Take care of all your business-as-usual data, compliancy and risk concerns
Ask these questions and build out your strategy. Application development nirvana is out there. You could even ask us.
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