We recently hosted a webinar together with 451 Research Analyst Jason Stamper from 451 Research Group to discuss Insights to Action using In-Memory Computing. It was so successful that we decided to share some of the highlights with you in this blog series. This is the first post based on Jason’s insights.  

Companies are facing many computing challenges and more are yet to come. Not only are we seeing changes to economics – Brexit‘s an obvious example recently for the UK – but generally, economically, organizations are of course under more and more pressure to be more competitive, to increase their profits, to reduce customer churn, to improve their customer engagement, and to make their customer experience more delightful, more charming, and more profitable for the organization. That can put quite the economic pressure on organizations.

We’ve All Become IT Experts

Technology changes are also unmistakable. The smartphones in our jacket pockets or handbags are as powerful as a mainframe computer that took up several rooms in the 1960s. No more punch cards or reel-to-reel tapes. That’s affected the way all of us interact with IT as well. Of course it also means there’s another impact of that, which is that everybody in your organization these days is now an IT expert, not just those in your department.

All business people in the organization have in most cases set up their own wireless network at home, so they think they’re networking gurus. They obviously can do Google searches and other internet search engine searches in a fraction of a second, so they consider themselves business intelligence experts. They’ve deployed and set up their own handsets, so they think that they’re hardware experts too. And the list goes on.

That puts a great deal of expectation on the IT department as to what you are expected to deliver to business people when of course they are all such experts in their own right.

Digital Transformation and the Role of CIOs

Then there’s also been organizational changes. The role of the CIO has changed. In many case it’s less important that they know so much about technology. It’s more important that they’re the broker of services, a negotiator of contracts, a handler of different services in the IT department, and indeed a business enabler, somebody who helps the business get done what it needs to get done, and less focused on the choices between things like Unix and Linux and Windows systems and Android versus iOS and who’s going to be allowed to bring in their phone and who isn’t, and more looking at, is the IT department really enabling the business to do what it needs to do?

That perfect storm has created something of a problem. There’s this disconnect between what IT is able to deliver and what the business expects it to deliver. That’s created a lack of trust between those two organizational units. The most forward-looking organizations’ IT departments considers themselves much more part of the business than they used to in the past, rather than a totally separate department.

Nevertheless, a recent survey found that of 200 CIOs, 98% admitted that the gap between what the business expects and what IT can deliver is, as they put it, significant. By the way the other 2% answered “N/A” to that question, so we’re talking about a very, very large chunk of business people that don’t feel they’re getting all what they want from IT in their organization. This creates a lack of trust and a lack of confidence in IT, and a certain sense of suspicion about where money is going that’s being spent in IT departments. 

In-memory Computing and IoT Challenges for IT DepartmentsSetting IT Expectations

Some of this might be obvious really, but because IT moves so fast, it’s easy as practitioners in IT, whether you’re head of IT, CTO, database developer, admin, you’re in charge of in-memory data grids and fabrics, a software developer, project manager, it’s easy to forget sometimes, just what the business is expecting from the IT department.

The business wants speed and performance from their IT. Not just in terms of how quickly a particular application runs or how quickly a particular report is delivered, but also when a new project is started, when a new application is required or a change to an existing application or website is needed – how quickly is the IT department able to help orchestrate that change and deliver that change?

What’s the kind of latency, not just on the systems and the applications themselves, but in the department itself and its development teams, is important these days. It’s very easy to deliver data to business people, but they also need it to be digestible and in a format that they can share it with their colleagues and potentially with customers and partners too. 

We need to remember, however, that the IT department still has an important role to play in ensuring the security of our data, the safety of data. Indeed the safety of customers’ and partners’ data too, and suppliers’ data. That’s one of the reasons that IT can sometimes seem to be putting a brake on very rapid changes and application development programs and the latest greatest technologies. It’s because they have to been mindful of course of ensuring that all of this is done within a framework of security in governance and data sovereignty.  

As well as speed and performance and security, business people expect these systems and applications to run non-stop. Increasingly organizations don’t necessarily have to follow the sun, their customers do it for them because they are based all over the world and they’re interacting with applications and websites. So reliability is obviously key.

Also important to remember is that the IT department obviously doesn’t have blank checks. As well as reliability, security performance and information, the IT department are expected to deliver all of these within strict budgets. So the business people also want value for money.

Final Thoughts, For Now

Of course all of these things create a certain tension between business and IT, and there are constant discussion in the negotiations about the role of the CIOs in ensuring that the IT department and the technologies that it’s adopting are fit for purpose and are the best possible choice, but equally coming under budget, and boost profitability rather than just costing an awful lot of money.

So we know a lot of these challenges and what organizations are facing, but what can they do to overcome them? In his next post, Jason will advise how to get pragmatic about technology and dive into data grids and their impact in IoT and their general positioning in in-memory data platforms and technologies. Stay tuned.

For more IoT and In-Memory Computing insights watch our full Webinar with 451 Group or read the full IoT blog series here:

The Perfect Storm: In-memory Computing and IoT Challenges for IT Departments
Jason Stamper on Twitter
Jason Stamper
Analyst, Data Management and Analytics @ 451 Research Group
Jason Stamper has over 20 years of experience in the IT sector, having started his career on the technology news desk at the Daily Express. He was the editor of Computer Business Review magazine from 2001 to 2014, and was also Technology Editor at the New Statesman.
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