The future of IT management
We're having lots of great debate about a number of areas that are supposedly going to transform IT. The focus of this blog is IT management, so here are some thoughts on what is and isn't going to transform IT management, including some long-overdue predictions from the IT Swami!
What a stimulating podcast this week from ITSM Weekly British Edition ("Rest of the World" my arse. The world doesn't end at the White Cliffs chaps, and you ceased to speak for a third of the world about half a century ago). Well it was stimulating for me, and not just because I got (mis-)quoted a lot (thanks Pat for getting closest).
I really do believe that the transformative technologies that get all the fizzy attention are not going to change the fundamentals of IT management. And into that bucket I lump virtualisation, social media, mobile devices, personal computing, BYOD and f***ing iPads (I can't believe how good Apple marketing is at manipulating otherwise intelligent and critical people. More than anything I'm reminded of junkies or besotted lovers I knew when I was young: "for god's sake, get control back of your own life!"). Yes, they'll change some of the mechanisms we use to do the practices if IT management, especially how we communicate, but that's manageable and mostly positive, and certainly not earth-shaking.
I'm equally convinced that we are not seeing a radical shift in those fundamentals of IT management because of outsourcing in general or cloud in particular. And that's because I don't believe we are seeing a radical increase (sorry James). Oh sure, Cloud and the Third World have both caused an up-tick in the amount of outsourcing right now. But I am going to blog sometime on the fallacy of linear extrapolation. Sunrise, sunset. The curve is up right now. That doesn't mean it won't go down again as outsourcing goes back out of fashion as it has done in the past.
I'm misinterpreted as saying I don't think these things matter, or they will have zero effect. I'm not saying that. I'm saying they won't change our strategies in the governance of IT, they won't change the principles by which we operate, they won't change the overall practices we employ.
What's more, I don't believe any of us have some mystical ability to see the future. Prognosticators have almost invariably been spectacularly wrong in the past (IT or otherwise), and the lunatic pace of change right now only makes that more likely. So when I hear of some supposedly transformative new trend, I want to see the evidence. It's called being a skeptic. And that means evidence of a genuine change under way combined with a causal mechanism why the trend is going to accelerate (usually a feedback mechanism, or the collapse of a damping mechanism). Even then I'm going to keep my powder dry as long as possible, because in the real world I'm spending other people's money and risking other people's laboriously accumulated assets.
But if you demand some guesswork about the future, no-one gives more reliable forecasts than the IT Swami. He's been buying up land in the Wairarapa lately, hoping that more of Peter Jackson's mates will follow James Cameron out here to buy up big green squares of New Zealand. I gather he (the Swami, not Cameron) has been funding that operation with what he grows on the land he already owns, so he may not be around for long. But right now he's quite close to Wellington, so I braved a drive over the Rimutakas with a bottle of Wild Turkey and an MP3 of the podcast on my Droid to loosen his tongue.
I'm not saying which had more effect, the audio or the bourbon, but here's three predictions about the future of IT management from the Swami :
1) I've said in the past we'll see a shift in emphasis to more on Governance, Service and Assurance and less on Infrastructure, Lifecycle and Operations. The changes caused by all that guff [virtualisation, social media, mobile devices, personal computing, BYOD and f***ing iPads] , because there are some changes, will mean we have to work harder at defending the organisation from IT as we lose some control over that IT itself. Please don't rush off Chicken Little style and quote me as saying there will be no more Infrastructure, Lifecycle and Operations. Unlike some pundits I'm talking about a shift in weighting here not a transformation.
2) We need to do more around communication channels with users, obviously. As Pat mentioned in the podcast, we need to "spy" on external user communities to see what they are saying. But I don't think that is as big a deal as some make it out to be because (a) for many of us our users are not uncontrolled - we share an employer, and (b) that's just one more source of detection for existing incident and problem processes. More important in communication is to teach the business how to govern IT properly - IT as a resource, not IT as a department - and to teach the users how to be grown-up in their use of IT at work.
3) There just might be a really significant change to IT management brewing and one of the bellwethers is this blog from Charles Betz who is usually way out there on the intellectual/theoretical frontiers of IT. I've always hated the word "process" in IT management and Adaptive Case Management just might kill it once and for all. Now that has the potential to be transformative to IT management. In comparison the iCandy is a geegaw.