Playing it safe in the data centre?

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  “We would not tolerate an old but still practicing medical doctor using outdated harmful techniques on us would we?  So why should we be comfortable with CIOs applying outdated concepts that might damage our enterprises?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.

Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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