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Sunday, 16 June 2013


If you look at the greatest inventions of our time, you will note that each of these inventions has gotten better, and more efficient as people have tinkered at them, given time.

Ford Model T
The Ford Model T, first produced in1908, is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile. The car had a top speed of 72 km/h and its fuel consumption was 11-18 L/100 Km; the engine could run on gasoline, kerosene and ethanol. Today we have the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid concept car, with fuel consumption at 3.76 L/100 km and an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h.
The ENIAC 1 computer of 1946 was financed by the military and contained 17,468 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors, 6,000 manual switches and 5 million soldered joints, all covering 167 square meters of floor space, with a “tonnage” of 30 tons and consumed 160 Kw of electric power, enough to cause brownout in adjacent towns. In comparison, Samsung Galaxy S III is consumer oriented, has a 1.4GHz, Cortex A9 processor, covers 91 square centimetres, weighs 133 grams and its power consumption is miniscule going at 4.9kWh per year, and please note its processing power is superior to the ENIAC 1. 
According to a report done by Opower, smartphones are quickly displacing our use of clunky, energy-intensive devices, people are using smartphones to do things they have historically done on computers, televisions and gaming consoles and thus using much less energy than the larger devices they are displacing.
As the demand for increased user satisfaction and higher qualities of service increase in the corporate environment, it almost seems that the CIO needs to be at the cusp of technological breakthroughs, and be able to communicate and educate the business on these developments, at the same time, in a clear and concise manner in order to add value to conversations held around the corporate strategy.     
It is no longer acceptable to think that the traditional approach to service delivery of an IT department will be satisfactory.  The term Return on Investment (RoI) has become such a cliché term that it ignites a defensive pose when mentioned, there is need to clearly and astutely define the value that any new piece of technology will bring to the firm and also define how this value will be measured.   
With the current Mobile Computing era, which Yankee Group expects to dwarf the Internet era, it is anticipated that close to 10 billion devices will be interconnected. The forces being totted to drive this era are:
·         Consumerization of IT, where users are allowed to use their own devices to perform their work thus essentially enhancing their user experience. This trend has been triggered over the last few years as development in the consumer technology space (e.g. smart phones) has outpaced developments the corporate technology space( e.g. PCs), prompting the users to bring their own technologies to work.
·         At the same time, mobile device sales have firmly surpassed PC sales, with Apple 5, selling more than 5 million units in its first three days of debut as testament this advent.
·         There are routing technologies that are integrating the 802.11n with 3G/4G networks progressively making Wi-Fi the primary corporate network of the near future.
·         Lastly we now have cloud based unified communication solutions with Mail, Document Management, Video and Web Conferencing now being possible with smart phones.
What this confirms in the end, is that the IT leader needs to, have more dialogue with his environment, strive to be do more with less, reduce costs of operation,  offer better and superior services to the business, while educating the business so that it becomes more IT smart.
In a survey by Harvard Business Review, “How IT-Smart is Your Organization?” 75% of business leaders said they viewed IT as critical to competitiveness or essential to managing business risks and costs, and yet according to the survey:
·         Only 30% identify IT needs when developing business strategy and take the lead on justifying and gaining approval for IT related investments.
·         Only 25% manage IT enabled initiatives and drive IT enabled business changes
·         Only 8% are held accountable for delivering IT-enabled business value.
What these statistics impute is that business leaders don’t know how to work with IT, and indeed the survey stated that only 27% of business leaders feel smart about IT. They said they want to learn more about how to:
·         Get the most out of the systems in place and what current technology can do and where it is headed
·         Make IT-enabled strategy and invest responsibly
·         Deliver complex solutions
·         Work with IT
The fact of the matter here is that business leaders can’t learn if no one is teaching them. Most IT leaders are still focussed on getting their own teams business smart and haven’t considered the importance or impact of getting the other parts of the business IT-smart.
According to HBR, you need to imagine the impact of having everyone in the business 10% smarter about IT? It’d do a lot more good than making everyone in IT 100 % smarter about the business.

Article done for CIO East Africa November 2012 issue 

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