My good friend Tom Fountain is a true IT thought leader and visionary. As many of you know, Tom has served as CIO at several major corporations, including Bunge and Honeywell. I caught up with him last week and asked him to outline his vision for the next big wave in IT. Here’s a brief summary of what he told me:
“We’re in a new era of IT evolution, the era of IT value creation. This is the era in which IT is judged by its impact on the business. The previous era was largely dominated by investments in ERP transformation projects.
Many of those ERP projects delivered on their promises, but there was also a lot of disappointment, mostly because people couldn’t get the business intelligence they needed. Sure, the new systems could tell you how many orders you had and show you your inventory, but they didn’t deliver the kind of insight you need to make great business decisions.
Today, everyone is talking about big data analytics. Big data analytics is useful, but my guess is that people will find it disappointing for many of the same reasons they found ERP systems disappointing.
Here’s my point: People want systems that tell them “how” and not just “what.” In today’s hyper-competitive markets, knowing more about your customers isn’t enough – you also have to know how to act on that knowledge. The analytics can tell you “what” your customers want, but they can’t tell you how to develop, price, market, produce and deliver it.
That’s why the next big wave is something beyond just analytics. The next big wave will be the orchestration of business processes across a value chain that is both virtual and highly distributed.
The next big challenge for CIOs – and for all parts of the business – is making sure that all the processes are orchestrated and optimized, across all the various parts of the enterprise and its network of partners. That’s how IT will create value, through the dynamic orchestration of technologies and processes.
More specifically, IT will help the business sense, interpret, and successfully respond to “events” going on around it — even during execution — in ways that preserve the original intent of the business and sustain, or even improve, the business outcome.
IT’s ability to organize and orchestrate business process execution — and to provide feedback that can be used to improve results – will become an increasingly critical function within the modern enterprise.”
Wow, I think Tom hit the nail on the head. I really like how he defines the new era of IT value creation. Big data analytics are part of the solution, no doubt, but what the business really wants now is value. Today, more than ever before, the CIO is positioned perfectly to deliver real value to the business. It’s a great time to be an IT leader!