Whenever I talk to CIOs these days, I test their reactions to what I call the "mega-trend trio" of mobility, cloud computing and social media.
Are these technologies reshaping their business landscapes yet? Does the hype come close to matching reality? Is this trendy trio as top of mind as surveys and pundits claim?
Universally, CIOs say "Yes" to all of the above.
Whatever the industry, the company size or the complexity of IT and business operations, CIOs are responding on all three fronts. They're planning and architecting for a future filled with data-demanding devices of all kinds, from Android phones to BlackBerrys to iPads and beyond.
"Either you're consciously building cloud and mobile systems or you're reacting to forces of the world pushing you down that path," says CIO Joshua Jewett of the $8 billion Family Dollar chain of stores. "It's always better to be conscious."
As our cover story by Senior Editor Kim S. Nash (" How Cloud Computing and Mobile Devices Are Changing Your Application Strategy") points out, the most vital decisions being made in many companies today concern enterprise architecture. The choices CIOs make now will enable their businesses to swiftly adapt to the triple whammy of demands coming from new applications delivered via mobile devices, social media sources and cloud providers.
Our story explores how that re-architecting of IT and business processes is happening behind the scenes at companies such as PNC Financial Services ( PNC), Matson Navigation ( ALEX), ADP and Family Dollar. While their approaches all differ, the core belief they share is that a disciplined enterprise architecture makes a competitive difference in a cloudy future with so many moving parts.
But how can you really "architect for anywhere"? You start by getting ahead of the angst, says Srini Cherukuri, senior director of IT operations at Matson. You prepare "early on from an architecture standpoint" instead of "retrofitting something after it's been built."
More good advice comes from John Ericksen, COO of IT for PNC Financial, which has a group of 35-40 enterprise architects. "When you ask about mobile, everybody wants everything," he notes, but the real challenge is finding the time to figure out your actual business needs.
CIOs who leverage strong enterprise architecture groups-and keep them grounded in real business outcomes-will stay a step ahead of the inevitable business demands of an anywhere-anytime-any device future.
Maryfran Johnson, Editor in Chief, CIO Magazine & Events
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