The fight over “shadow IT” — the signing up for cloud services by staff impatient with IT’s slow pace of adding needed technology — may be masking a serious problem: A CIO out of touch with business needs.

CIOs have a legitimate concern with shadow IT and have to learn there’s a place for it in the enterprise as a long as reasonable policy rules are set out. See our recent slide show on this. But IT can’t be an obstacle to everything new.

Which brings me to a recent blog by Gartner’s Mark Raskino, who recalls talking to a couple of “digital leaders” — I take it to mean companies with Internet-related businesses — who alleged that the “current ageing generation of CIOs still don’t really ‘get’ the Web.”

Of course, those in a fast-moving business where competitors can get an advantage with new software or jumping to infrastructure-as-a-service are going to strain at the reins put on by a CIO who worries more about security, playing it safe with known technology, scared of the possible loss of IT staff, and, maybe, his job.

They might be the ones who are fighting “shadow IT” — the signing up for cloud services by impatient line of business workers.

Raskino isn’t sympathetic.

“I have never believed there’s a good excuse for technology professionals to get stuck on a particular generation of technology thinking,” he writes.  “We would not tolerate an old but still practicing medical doctor using outdated harmful techniques on us would we?  So why should we be comfortable with CIOs applying outdated concepts that might damage our enterprises? If you are a CIO, you have chosen to be a leader in one of the fastest advancing areas of human endeavor.  Keeping up is a professional obligation. Becoming a stick-in-the-mud is not really acceptable.”

So he encourages CIOs that haven’t already done so to get into cloud computing, social networks, mobile apps and data science. “You have the capability to reshape and redefine organizational capabilities,” he writes.

“It’s time to do digital business full force; get with the program or get out of the way.”

Are you Dr. No? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

  • David Haywood

    On the other hand even in IT should one do something just because you can or because it is the latest thing ? There seem to be many supposedly knowledgeable IT people who are still leery of Cloud Technology……………… it merely the latest thing or it is here to stay as a necessary and integral part of future IT endeavours ? It doesn’t help either when large computer/office equipment stores sell portable hard-drives as your own personal Cloud, making a mockery of the new Cloud Technology……………or does it ? Many people in the public think of it as some kind of magic but I keep reminding them it’s just a huge batch of steel and plastic servers located somewhere else than in your own office……………………a bit like dumb terminals attached to a IBM 360 with its cooling tower outside.