In truly innovative companies, the IT department never stops. In addition to the daily care and feeding of systems and servers, IT execs must be thinking about the short-, medium- and long-term needs of the organization and how technology can enable and support these efforts.
If you’re reading this, you already know what a constant challenge it is to keep up with new market opportunities, new technologies, new devices and software delivery platforms and the continual need for speed.
Leading an IT department is not a job for the faint-hearted. Think about how you are handling these five challenges in your organization and know that each is closely related to the others. In order to be successful, you must address all five in a thoughtful, deliberation fashion.
1. Application Proliferation. You cannot simply react to the Next Big Thing, appending yet another new application to your app portfolio. You need to take a step back and evaluate your strategy, tools and technology, making sure they can handle both present and future needs. While you can’t anticipate every scenario, obvious areas to look at include capacity, security, scalability and performance of applications in the environment. As it will become clear in the next four points, it’s not enough to adapt to current trends. You need to be a bit of a seer, assessing your company and its technology needs while steering the IT function in the right direction.
2. Application Variety. You’re not just dealing with a greater proliferation of applications. You also are juggling a wider variety of these applications as well as the various business systems they must connect to and interact with. How many enterprise applications are you already responsible for? How many business areas (marketing, sales, HR, R&D, purchasing, etc.) do they touch? Whatever those numbers are, they aren’t going down anytime soon. Not only are you being asked to support more applications, you must ensure they work seamlessly with your backend systems.
3. Speed-to-Market. Besides having more applications and more business systems to connect and monitor, you also must get everything done yesterday. As development cycles shrink, consider Agile development practices to help get your applications into production faster. An enterprise application Center of Excellence (CoE) can help speed development through the purposeful reuse of application components and architecture, instead of creating each application from scratch. But you must have a solid strategy, because asking for more time just isn’t an option.
4. Device Variety. The Internet of Things has opened up possibilities for meaningful, tightly integrated interactions between companies and their customers and among workers. Smart companies are exploring these possibilities in earnest. But when nearly every electronic sensor and device can interact with others, companies face development challenges posed by the sheer number of possible connections. Development frameworks can help by translating much of the development work to similar platforms. The translations won’t be perfect, which is where QA testing comes in. Regardless of the design and time pressures your team faces, you should not give QA testing the short shrift.
5. Employee Adoption. The preceding points come together in front of the user. We are all fickle users of technology – even when that technology is thrust upon us by our employers. It must do what it’s supposed to do, work on the device in our hands and help us do our jobs better. It must load quickly, push and pull information efficiently from back-office systems and be better than whatever technology or pencil-and-paper solution we’re currently using.
It’s an exciting time to be a technologist. The possibilities appear endless – as do the chances to royally screw it up. You’ll do well to start a firm plan and the right team around you in order to deal with the increasing complexity of enterprise mobility programs.