Most discussions around technology adoption, including debates about the consumerization of IT, tend to divide ranks between older generations who are IT-averse and Millennials who can’t get enough of their smartphones. In a recent Webinar showcasing Constellation Research’s latest survey of CIOs, however, analyst Ray Wang said the mix was more complex than that. He broke users into five different generations of worker, each of whom could react differently to a CIO’s attempt to innovate:
Digital natives: They’re not necessarily just the people who were born in the last 20 years. “People in their late 60s could be a digital native,” Wang said. To figure it out, “You could ask a simple question: do you wake up to an alarm clock, a radio, or a phone?” How they answer could say much about their information consumption habits.
Digital immigrant: These are workers who are bridging the analogue world they grew up in but who are adapting to new technologies and processes relatively smoothly. This group may be responsive to some technology-enabled change, with the right preparation and planning.
Digital voyeurs: They’ve seen what’s happening out there with mobile computing, cloud services, social media and so on, but “they haven’t dived in,” according to Wang. What an innovative CIO does here could determine whether they make the leap into a different level of digital proficiency.
Digital holdouts: They may be aware of disruptive technologies but they’re not interested, Wang said. This could be a particularly difficult group to win over.
Digitally disengaged: They’ve been there, done that, and they’ve decided to opt out. Wang described them as “early adopters who don’t want to leave any more information. Inside every organization, you know these folks.”
Identify the CIO Persona You Want
For years now, Wang has been talking about the different “personas” CIOs have begun to take on, depending on where they tend to spend their time and what they ultimately accomplish in their role. Tellingly, none of these personas use “information” as the “I” in CIO, but instead focus on the following:
Infrastructure: This is the “keeping the lights on” stuff, including managing the data centre, ensuring network uptime and so on. Faced with flat or declining budgets for much of the past decade, many CIOs continue to struggle with keeping up with their infrastructure chores. “It’s a noble task, definitely very important,” Wang said. “But you have to ask the question: What would you rather be spending your time on?” For those that want to be perceived as more than an executive gearhead, they may need to aim even higher.
Integration: There are the systems that CIOs buy, and then there’s the stuff that comes through M&As, the need to connect with partners, suppliers and even internal resources. “Gone are the days of point to point integration,” Wang said. “They might be connecting a cloud system internally, or a sensor ecosystem that’s on the other side. There’s a big shift where not only are you managing the integration libraries, you’re also making sure master data connects with each other, retiring certain systems. “Remember service-oriented architecture (SOA)? “It’s back!” Wang said. “Companies are looking at how to connect system and process integrity. Master data management is important because they’ve been burned before with all this data that doesn’t connect with each other.”
Intelligence: The focus here, among other things, is working with data standards and access and making sure information “lights up” on a mobile device. “That’s the quick win we see everyone going after,” Wang said. Then there’s data quality. “There are lots of false positives, meaning a lot of information doesn’t make correlations, or it’s conflicting.” Chief intelligence officers are also concerned with creating self-service systems so that users can easily whip a report on their own, rather than ordering or requesting one from IT. These CIOs are probably also dealing with unstructured or big data project, Wang added.
Innovation: This is where many CIOs say they want to be. According to Wang, they are investing in mobile, cloud computing and business-IT alignment. They take the time to train IT leaders to be better business folks, Wang said, while also helping business folks to understand what the tech issues really are. In terms of their ultimate priority, “mobile wins,” Wang said. “The journey to mobile enablement is changing the user experience, with how apps are delivered internally and internally. Companies are building mobile apps internally that are updated every 24-36 weeks. It’s the one thing that’s constantly changing.
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