‘Disruptive technologies’ and ‘disruptive innovation’ are becoming important labels in today’s IT and commercial world. Gartner lists a top 10 of the innovations most likely to change the face of business, while Forrester’s 2012 conference heavily leans on the theme of ‘digital disruption’. A new wave of technology and a new generation of technically astute end-users have seen dramatic changes in IT computing in the fields of social media, Cloud computing, big data and mobile. Troubled IT executives are struggling to cope with the emerging and diverging demands of stakeholders, business leaders, shareholders and a new breed of smart, highly demonstrative users.
Meanwhile, the same IT organization faces the continuing challenge of providing additional business value using old technology, archaic processes, limited resources and inadequate investment. Failure to keep up with even ‘normal’ business change has been coined by some observers as ‘IT debt’, or ‘technical debt’: the number of unmet requirements in the IT backlog, which still need addressing.
Faced with tackling these two growing concerns, CIOs are stuck in a near-impossible situation as they look to cope with the previous backlog and try to devise ways of meeting future challenges. In reality, this means coping with a number of specific elements along the path between innovative technology demands and technical debt requirements.
As IT organizations look to provide core business as a service, Cloud computing introduces an innovative opportunity both for offering potential new client services, or to reduce operating cost and complexity by outsourcing core IT (platforms, services, applications) to a provider.
With the mobile world now very much part of the business world, organizations are striving to make sense of the consumerization of IT, ’bring your own device’ (BYOD), and other operational challenges. Additionally, as mobile services start to prevail, the impact on the back office starts to take its toll, and IT operations have to find a way to cope with unprecedented levels of capacity (see our recent blog). Meanwhile, customers are simply expecting mobile apps for all their day-to-day services.
While Cloud, Mobile and other disruptive technologies may steal the limelight, new IT architecture has emerged that presents both challenges and opportunities for IT and development organizations. New paradigms including JVM, .NET, and new platforms such as zEnterprise, Windows 8 and tablet devices must be embraced, otherwise organizations face the risk of losing a competitive edge.
With a variety of challenges facing IT, it is frequently left to the development organization to provide software solutions to the pressing issues of the day. Yet this is another area where investment and process decisions may have led to a confused and inefficient situation today. Facing this, organizations are looking to unify development tooling and streamline the deployment approach, in order to build a more efficient software delivery process.
Skills and Organization
Other major obstacles to organizational efficiency are the structural barriers found in many IT organizations. Groups of developers structured around technology lines limit the ability for teams to collaborate, which leads to a much less agile skills pool. This is a major factor in what has been referred to as the ‘IT skills crisis’. In order to solve this, IT must look for ways to break down those barriers and to unify the skills pool. This can be achieved by eliminating the obstructions, implementing skill-sharing programs and adopting group wide process and technology standards.
We will be exploring each of these trends in more detail through a series of blogs in the coming weeks.
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technical debt has another definition….. it has to do with taking short cuts to deliver quickly at the cost of software with a higher future maintenance cost.