Disruption or Disruptive – IT at the Cost of Business

In 2003, a professor from Harvard Business School named Nicholas Carr wrote an exceptionally controversial article called: “IT Doesn’t Matter”. In his article, Professor Carr made some very bold statements: 

“Although more complex and malleable than its predecessors, IT has all the hallmarks of an infrastructural technology. In fact, its mix of characteristics guarantees particularly rapid commoditization.”

“IT is also highly replicable. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more perfect commodity than a byte of data—endlessly and perfectly reproducible at virtually no cost. The near-infinite scalability of many IT functions, when combined with technical standardization, dooms most proprietary applications to economic obsolescence.”

With a view of commoditized and easily replicable and scalable he predicted, “…companies will fulfill their IT requirements simply by purchasing fee-based ‘web services’ from third parties—similar to the way they currently buy electric power or telecommunications services.”

So, in other words, in 2003 Nicholas Carr predicted that companies would be buying IT as a service over the internet. CIO’s and IT Industry pundits mocked and basically labeled Nicholas Carr as a heretic. In 2003 Amazon was a book store.  Now AMAZON is the leading provider of on-demand IT capabilities delivered as a service over the internet.

On March 30th, I have the pleasure of delivering a Keynote with industry expert Damian Bowen at SDI’s National UK event entitled: “Disruption or Disrupted: How Digital Transformation is changing IT?” It’s not a topic you would typically see at a Service Desk industry event. The reality is, IT is being disrupted more than it is being disruptive. Just as Nicholas Carr caused a tremendous amount of uncertainty into the fate of IT with his comments, we are seeing a similar reaction to the new focus of “IT as the Business”.   The industry is all the buzz about DevOps and Digital business.  Leading ITSM experts who at one time, like me, were proponents for IT as a Service Provider, are now leading the message that IT needs a reboot and re-focus.  Just note these quotes over the past few months:

Gene Kim @realgenekimIT must respond to the rapidly changing competitive landscape & provide stable, reliable and secure service to customers… simultaneously

Mark Smalley @marksmalley “Business people should engage continuously with the Development team

Rob England @theitskepticIT Projects go away? #NoProjects

Karen Ferris @karenferrisIt’s time to make service management agile.

Ken Gonzalez @ken_gonzalezDigital Business is Business, We don’t go digital – we are already there

Robert Stroud @robertestroud   “relentless focus on customer experience drives quality products and services

And the list goes on…

Bottom line, there is a new expectation for IT leaders and the services they provide. IT can no longer be carried out in its traditional “command & control” mindset at the cost of business innovation and growth.  It’s no wonder why ITSM is under so much scrutiny to demonstrate and validate its value as a business discipline. When IT is the business, CEO’s don’t want better IT… they want better Business.

Be sure to check back for the recording of my interview with Ollie O’Donahughe @SDIOllie on March 23rd, 2017 to hear about DevOps in the real world and why IT as we know it is being massively disrupted.