Earlier this year IDC Research predicted that cloud computing would grow even more rapidly over the coming years. In fact, IDC anticipates a tenfold increase in new cloud solutions, which is driven by what they call the ‘Third Platform’. Oliver Descoudres looks at its impact on CIOs.
So what is the Third Platform?
IDC has a theory that the IT world is reshaped significantly every 20 – 25 years by a shift to a new technology platform. IDC refers to the latest incarnation as the Third Platform.
The Third Platform is essentially an integration of technologies that have come about during the second decade of the 21st century. It consists of mobility, cloud services, big data analytics and social interaction, and is expected to transform IT more than ever before.
With the advent of consumerised technology such as mobility, social and cloud, and commoditised technology such as compute and storage, enterprise IT is no longer operating in the strictly regulated worlds of the mainframe and client-server computing that made up the First and Second Platforms of ICT.
The Third Platform will bring about a different set of challenges that CIOs and IT have never faced. These are:
- § Rapid growth of unified communications, convergence and mobility
- § Proliferation of the number and types of devices requesting access to the enterprise network
- § A constant flow of new devices – including those related to machine-to-machine communications – bringing greater complexity in traffic patterns, more security threats and different user requirements, including compliance
- § Volumes of data traversing networks growing at staggering rates
- § The ability to make sense of ever-increasing information.
The CIO’s role and IT will be impacted in a number of ways:
1. Moving beyond traditional IT
CIOs and IT will have to move out of the comfort of the traditional IT organisation, as enterprise IT will be comprised of so much more than internal network management. Requirements for access to the network will continue to rise along with connectivity demands, while IT cornerstones such as compute and storage are becoming commoditised.
The organisation’s stakeholders, especially employees, now have vastly different requirements for their working arrangements. They may include Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), collaboration, working from home or the use of social networks, which will all need the appropriate security measures.
2. Shared responsibility for IT decision-making
The CIO and IT department is not always the buying centre and are struggling to match technology with people and processes, according to IDC. As front-office functions and line-of-business managers become more customer-facing, they have a better understanding of customer requirements, and hence, play a greater role in making the organisation’s ICT decisions.
With the increased consumerisation and commoditisation of technology, the line-of-business’ role in ICT decision-making will grow and surpass IT’s role. IDC predicts that by 2016, line-of-business managers will be the lead decision-maker in half or more of new ICT investments.
3. IT will be at the heart of business growth and innovation
IDC believes that the IT function will be integral to an organisation’s growth and innovation efforts. ICT discussions will shift away from the technical specifications about a particular technology, such as equipment speeds and feeds. The main considerations will be about how the particular investment will support the business’ goals, for example supporting faster time to market or improved customer response times.
CIOs can no longer be inward looking and technology focused. With the enterprise demanding much more from technology investments, CIOs must position the IT department as a technology service provider in order to leverage relevant products and services to ensure that the organisation successfully achieves its objectives.
Ultimately, IDC believes that the growth of the Third Platform will set in motion the evolution of IT and the CIO’s role. CIOs must step out of their technology-focused role to become technology agnostic – to maintain relationships with a few key vendors that can provide a range of services, and ultimately determine how IT can contribute to the organisation’s innovation and growth.
To learn more about the changes to the CIO role and IT, and the factors contributing to them, refer to our blog posts on the changing role of CIOs.