Gartner rang the alarm bell today at the organization's annual Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando. While it is a long standing tradition for consulting organizations to detail a crisis to which they have the answer at their user events, the Gartner analysts were particularly strident in their IT and CIO wake up call. And I think they are correct in raising the alarm.
Led by Gartner SVP of Research Peter Sondergaard, Gartner analysts told the 8,500 attendees (including 2,000 CIOs), that the major current technology, marketing and consumer trends are converging on the IT departments. The result? IT departments have to either embrace the change or watch their jobs and budgets disappear into other corporate operations including the office of the chief marketing officer.
The three themes of embracing what Sondergaard described as the "post modern business" practices, the pursuit of simplicity to allow customers be at the center of a company's business operations and the "creative destuction" of legacy applications were emphasized throughout the conference's opening proceedings.
"The IT organization cannot be a bystander," warned Sondergaard as he noted that cloud computing, social networks, mobile computing and information analysis are restructuring not just IT but also the businesses in which they operate.
Cloud computing presently represented three percent of IT spending in 2010, but is growing at 19% annually through 2015, according to Gartner. In addition to the rapid growth of cloud computing, the emergence of "pattern-based architecture" is replacing traditional business intelligence derived from monolithic data warehouses, mobile operating systems will exceed PC operating systems by 2014 and the emergence of social networks will require CIOs to radically rethink their organizations. The change will be marked by the need to use "cloud brokers" to offload traditional IT operations while investing in technology and services that can provide a strategic differentiation to the organization.
All these changes come at a time of economic uncertainty with Gartner predicting that enterprise IT spending will increase only at 3.9% in 2012 and remain in that range through 2015.
The bottom line for IT managers and CIOs? I'm thinking Gartner was correct in ringing the alarm. The technologies and services currently so familiar to the consumer world must become part of the enterprise computing experience. You don't want to be lost to your competition who has embraced a new and needed computing model while you are stuck in the old regime.