reflections3It’s that time of year again – a time to reflect on the past 12 months, and ponder what the next year holds for IT leaders and professionals everywhere.  So, here goes…

  • 2008 was shaping up to be an exciting and fun year!  And in net terms, it has been.  For all the excessive hype, Web 2.0 broke through the noise, as forward-thinking CIO’s focused on creating plans and activities to help understand and leverage the emerging forces of ‘everything as a service,’ most often discussed under some variation of Enterprise 2.0 or Next Generation Enterprise.  Unfortunately, the last quarter has seen many of those efforts scaled back or put on hold while the almost mandatory knee-jerk “hunker down” reaction works through its inevitable course.  I think this retrenchment is unfortunate and short-sighted!  I’m finding that the most progressive CIO’s (which often lead the helm at the highest business-IT maturity enterprises) are responding to the recession with even more emphasis on growth and innovation.  However, many are retrenching – cutting back on exactly those opportunities that represent the best promise for their companies, and perhaps for a better world.
  • I’ve noticed a growing gap between high and low business-IT maturity companies.   One of the reasons for this is that even some of the lowest IT maturity companies are now looking for help as they recognize the increasing importance of IT to any business or enterprise.  So in my consulting work in the last year or so, I’m interacting more with lower IT maturity companies.  I’m delighted that these “late adopters” are coming out of the woodwork, and I personally enjoy working with such organizations, even though it is typically the “business” side of “business-IT maturity” that is real laggard.  Business executives, who have for years failed to grasp the importance of IT, preferring to treat it as a necessary cost to be minimized, are suddenly waking up with the realization that it’s time to take IT seriously.  Often step 1 is to replace the hapless CIO.  This is probably necessary, but if they don’t also change the business-IT engagement and governance models, the new CIO is going to be hamstrung, and probably not well positioned for a long tenure.  As I’ve noted before, businesses get the IT they deserve!
  • I’ve personally and professionally enjoyed the whole 2.0 phenomenon.  I’ve tried quite a few different tools and services.  Many have stuck and are now part of my most basic work-flow fabric – real contributors to my personal productivity and/or quality of collaboration.  This class includes WordPress (which I find to be an excellent blogging platform – certainly from the perspective of a relative novice and technophobe), Mindmeister (I’ve always been an avid mindmapper, but with Mindmeister it has become an integral tool I use collaboratively with my colleagues) and Teamwork Live (a collaborative project management tool.   Some tools I have tried and given up on.  I have a short attention span, and if it isn’t easy to figure out how to get the most from them and get started quickly, I won’t stick with it.  I have to admit to ‘not getting it’ with Twitter.  I mean, I do get it, but have not yet been persuaded to be active in the tweetersphere following an early experiment.  I am getting more from Yammer in the context of my company environment, and see greater potential value there given my situation and context.  I’ve found tagging in general, and Delicious in particular to be a great tool that is helping me organize, find and share stuff.  Most importantly, I’ve become a huge believer in the power of a good collaboration hub as an enterprise tool.  At nGenera, our nGen Collaboration platform is central to just about everything we do, and is being rapidly expanded to better serve our research, education and advisory services clients.  This has had a major positive impact on the volume of my email – now a fraction of what it used to be, as we move from a “push” to a “pull” model of communication and collaboration.  I also spend far less time looking for files, backing them up, and making sure that I have the right version.  If you are still emailing stuff among colleagues, or using shared drives and other 1.0 approaches to collaboration, do yourself a favor and find a way to get into the 2.0 world!

I’ll move from reflections on 2008 to prognostications on 2009 in a subsequent post.  Meanwhile, my best wishes to my readers for a Happy, Healthy New Year!