In a recent discussion with a group of executives, I stated “these are very tough times, but the technology is there to be revolutionary and make great things happen for the business. I told them that they just need to be that revolutionary person to drive change.” I’ve had a couple of comments online and more offline directly to me around innovation. I wanted to share some of my thoughts on being innovative and some things that you can do to help push the “innovation envelope” and create a dynamic IT environment.
I’ve been a noticing a lot recently that companies are only looking at what is going on today in their environments, instead of stepping back and getting a fresh perspective. Let’s face it most companies in most industries have a kind of tunnel vision. They chase the same opportunities that everyone else is chasing; they miss the same opportunities that everyone else is missing. It’s the companies that see a different game that win big. The most important question for innovators today is: What do you see that the competition doesn’t see? In the book “The Art of Innovation”, Tom Kelley gets a term from George Carlin; vuja dé; what does this mean? It means taking a look at something familiar with a new perspective as if you had never seen it before, and with that new perspective developing a new line of sight into the future.
Now I have to make this statement as it relates to IT, this doesn’t mean that you need to be on the bleeding edge, and maybe you don’t have the resources to invest in multiple areas of technology. Still, you need to ask yourself the question: What do we need to focus on to ensure the future readiness of your own IT organization and to enable the businesses we support to go forward?
I think Citrix has the technology to help you ensure future readiness and enable the business to go forward. I ask a lot of potential clients and current clients to look at Citrix with a new perspective. We all know how hard Citrix is trying to remove the ‘one trick pony’ stigma, and I think everyone that has the technology or was looking at the technology a while ago should experience some vuja dé and take another look.
When it comes to innovation in IT, I’ve seen customers actually form small teams within their IT departments that only focus on the future of technology. They work closely with their counterparts on the business solutions side to ensure that the technology will meet the business requirements and spur further productivity gains and competitive advantage. I call this planning today for tomorrow’s new technology. This begs the question, “how far do you look into the future?” Well the quick answer is it depends. It depends on the role of your IT department in your company. I know that in some industries I’ve been engaged with can be at a serious competitive disadvantage if IT doesn’t stay on the leading edge. These are the companies that are using radical innovation to alter industry economics and redefining for competitive advantage. The most creative executives I’ve met don’t aspire to learn from the “best in class” in their industry—especially when the best in class aren’t all that great. They aspire to learn from companies far outside their field as a way to shake things up and make real change.
One of the ways that I think IT departments and businesses in general can be innovative is to look again with a fresh perspective to a concept that has been around for a while; dynamic IT, and what this strategy can do for them around competitive advantage etc. There is still a lot of debate on whether IT “matters”. I’ve seen cases where there is not much debate in the minds of some business executives, who recognize that IT is critical to the execution of business strategy. This isn’t to say that Mr. Carr is wrong; he is most definitely on target with his theories and statements, but many business strategies – including collaborative product development, consumer-driven supply chain, and multi-tiered channel management and customer service – are actually impossible to execute without the support of underlying apps, data repositories, and workflow systems, that may not be a fit for “the cloud”. That is a whole other conversation that is outside my scope for today.
What needs to be on the mind of every executive is a new, more innovative way to make IT dynamic and create that competitive advantage. Some companies are creating that “dynamic IT” with application, server, and storage virtualization technologies, but that is probably very innovative for the majority of some companies out there. Incremental innovation is better than no innovation at all I say, but I’ve said it before in an increasingly nonlinear world, only nonlinear ideas are likely to create competitive advantage.
Like I stated before, the concept of “dynamic IT” has been around for a few years now and has started to gain some traction but not as much as it really could (or should). The “dynamic IT” concept and push for innovation go hand-in-hand here. By taking the vuja dé idea, IT and the business should be looking at and understanding what capabilities exist in the marketplace that they aren’t taking full advantage of, moving on them, and then using them to improve the way they do business today. A word of caution first; An enormous divide exists, albeit the gap is starting to close quickly but the business still faces the accelerating challenge to be more dynamic, IT has historically responded slowly to changing business needs. This divide can be very evident in fast cycle industries such as high-tech manufacturing, consumer goods, etc, where the speed of business cycles often outstrips the speed with which IT can react to new market demands. Here is where IT needs to be utilizing vuja dé more now than in any time in history. Virtualization and other technologies allow IT to break the old traditional ways IT has worked and really provide that flexible infrastructure that is needed. To use another quote from a previous post where, Jim Champy said, “For the first time in history we can work backward from our imagination rather than forward from our past”. Again; vuja dé
I’ve mentioned ‘dynamic IT’ many times now in this post and I’m sure you’re asking “so what are the drivers for a more dynamic IT?” In my experience of getting vuja dé with it, the most pressing needs driving the dynamic IT shift are:
I see these top drivers mapping directly into two paths that organizations are taking as they develop a more dynamic IT capability, focused on improving:
• Business strategy automation and execution
o Focus on responding faster to changing business needs by improving the ability to quickly deliver and integrate applications, data, and workflow that support new business requirements, and improve productivity. can do this with the Citrix Delivery Center.
o Use IT to monitor business performance and speed the business’ operational adjustments to market changes and supporting policy-driven actions. This comes from developing key metrics in conjunction with the business side and proactively monitoring and making tactical adjustments as needed to ensure success.
• IT operations management and automation
o Focus on delivering higher service-level performance in support of the business and lowering the cost of infrastructure on which the business applications depend. Again, we can accomplish this with Citrix and other technologies.
o Link, monitor, and manage – end-to-end – all IT operational elements that support a business activity, from hardware and system software to business applications, data, workflow, and business process.
Again by taking the vuja dé concept and looking at what Citrix brings to the table today will provide the majority of a solid solution for your organization.
There are two key areas where I see IT management focusing. On the “business strategy automation and execution” side of things, they need to focus on using virtualization and other technologies to create new business value through IT by moving more quickly and cost-effectively in developing/integrating the applications, data, and workflow that support business process execution. From the “IT operations management and automation” perspective, we (IT) need to increase IT efficiency and performance. To do that we must deliver better IT operating performance in support of the business and lower IT operating costs by 1) automating labor-intensive tasks. We can use Citrix Workflow studio to get some of this done. 2) Develop end-to-end management capabilities. Again we can accomplish this with a mix of standard infrastructure management tools and Workflow Studio. 3) reduce the “hardwired” inflexibility through more virtualization, ie, Desktops, Storage, etc.
There are lots of challenges here and I’m hoping that with a little vuja dé you will see that Citrix and some other technologies can help put you more into the ‘dynamic IT’ set and make great things happen for your company