Home Editor Recommends We are in an Information Technology Renaissance

We are in an Information Technology Renaissance

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By Daniel Steeves, Director at Beyond Solutions

Blame it on a summer holiday in Florence and a Dan Brown novel but it strikes me that we are in an era of IT renaissance: not only does it feel like a ‘revival’ but we actually have the opportunity today for all of this information technology stuff to really start to deliver cost-effective value across the board… if it is done right.

While there has never been much argument that Thomas Watson was a little short-sighted in declaring five computers worldwide as the saturation point, I can’t recall anyone forecasting a billion users around the world accessing the same website, let alone the overall breadth of where we’re at and where we’re clearly going.

Yet we do take a lot of it for granted – and it is amazing how quickly that happens – things like connectivity (practically) everywhere and cheap computing. And it all continues to drive changes in attitudes and behaviours – for both consumers and businesses – resulting in demand, interest and uptake for IT unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. And, again, a shot at a serious return on your investment… if it is done right.

[Incidentally if you’re pushed for time and want to cut to the juicy bit – scroll down to the ‘Call to Action’ section at the bottom!]

Solving Business Problems, not Problem Businesses

But, to loosely quote myself from a chat with Neil Cattermull during a video interview (to be published next week), “If a business expects Cloud Computing to suddenly sort and solve all of the business problems of the past – such as project delays and budget overruns resulting from scope creep and changes requests – then many will be sadly disappointed”.

If a business expects Cloud Computing to suddenly sort and solve all of the business problems of the past – such as project delays and budget overruns resulting from scope creep and changes requests – then many will be sadly disappointed…

While I do appreciate that many of the contributors to said risks have changed hands and may well be reduced or just plain go away, whatever is being delivered from the Cloud still involves and impacts the users of the business and current IT delivery. Cloud can provide solutions for businesses, if done right… but it doesn’t change how the business itself is being run.

There is one significant difference from the days of yore, though: there is now vast amounts of clever information and opinions from subject matter experts – ranging from advisors and providers to end users and end user businesses, all of whom have experienced either the pain or the joy (or more typically a little bit of each) on the journey that they’ve been taking. Add to that the encyclopaedic knowledge – free for the taking – on sites like this one (our hosts at Compare the Cloud)… today we have the basis, the platforms, the knowledge and the resources to do things right. In a moment I am going to ask you to add to the sum total and help to get it all a little more ‘right’.

Doing IT Right

IT…we have the knowledge of what needs to be done if we want it to be done right consistently… don’t we?

In this industry we do know what “right” means, not to mention what wrong looks like: after 40-plus years of business IT education the hard way, the industry as a whole pretty much agrees on the basics (even if they constantly argue the specifics). Starting with requirements and working through to planning and execution, we have the knowledge of what needs to be done if we want it to be done right, consistently… don’t we?

We should also, by now, know that spending money to create ‘automated’ replications of existing and sometimes ancient processes, thought patterns and approaches rather than investing the time, effort and money to at least investigate prospects to improve, streamline, remove bottlenecks and introduce other business efficiencies in a new technology-based solution would probably not be the preferred approach… but we’ll save that discussion for another time!

Lessons from Leonardo and the Italian Renaissance

The point of all of this is that I’ve started thinking that maybe, like common sense, those lessons presented practically aren’t so common – and that maybe our own IT Renaissance is missing a few bits.

The movement of information, experience and views made the Renaissance “matter”.

So to start with, here are 3 key things that we should (or could) learn from the thought processes of 15th Century Italy to apply to today’s business technology environments?

1. Renaissance innovators sought inspiration and knowledge from the great thinkers that came before them

…where Today’s Business users and Cloud providers need to consider and then apply or adapt Best Practices and methods in order to derive maximum value.

2. During those ancient days the focus shifted towards individual rather than institutional achievements and people realised that they could be in control

…On the same hand, Cloud computing enables and encourages small business and start-ups, putting previously unaffordable capabilities within relatively easy access.

3. Finally, the Renaissance came to matter because of the movement of information, experience and views across borders

… this one seems kind of self-explanatory.

CALL TO ACTION: A Little Homework for the Experts

We’d like to see are some clear, outcome-focused lessons, best practices and styles or approaches from the past which you believe should apply today…

As I see it whilst numbers 2 and 3 (above) seem to be well in-hand, number 1 on that list could use some help! So I was thinking why don’t we compile our own list of lessons learned which we feel apply directly to the cloud space? And who better to compile such a list than you, – the Readers of and Contributors to Compare the Cloud – a group consisting of some of whom I consider some of the most experienced and knowledgeable in this space? So I invite you to share those gems of experience from your past which you deem as a critical success factor for today’s IT landscape.

No, you aren’t required to spin a specific Renaissance connection: what we’d like to see are some clear, outcome-focused lessons, best practices and styles or approaches from the past which you believe should apply today or which you have been applying today and throughout your career: you know, that uncommon commodity of common sense…

I look forward to a solid, educational and useful list (and thanks in advance for participating!)