Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Impact of Consumer IT on the CIO

I've written about the implications of staff bringing their own devices to the office instead of using corporate desktops and the challenges of keeping mobile devices secure.

I own a Blackberry Bold 9700, first released on December 18, 2009.  Since I do not read email when I drive, I hand it to my wife who instinctively tries to navigate my email by gesturing on the screen (it does not work).  I receive one email every 30 seconds (over 1000 per day), many of which contain web sites and attachments.   Reading them on a Blackberry Bold is not a satisfying experience.   It's a messaging device, not a comprehensive mobile platform.

In 2007, owning a Blackberry was cool and RIM interviewed me about the my mobile lifestyle.

The iPhone 3GS was released on June 19, 2009 and since then Blackberry has become less cool and RIM has lost $30 billion in market value.

Market changing consumer products are introduced every 6 months.  In the same timeframe, I've been working on hundreds of important enterprise initiatives.  The average hospital IT project, given limited resources and large scope, takes 18 months.

The consumer IT marketplace moves at such a fast pace, applying thousands of people to create a single device, that the average employee now expects every hospital IT project to proceed in the same manner, even though only one person may be working on a niche project that serves a small number of users.

I sometimes describe the job of the CIO as a quest to minimize negative reinforcement - "I only received 100 challenging emails, it's been a great day".  The accelerated pace of consumer IT multiplies impatience, intolerance, and emotion.

It would be great if mobile devices and the Cloud solved all our problems, but unfortunately, the enterprise world has compliance requirements, security constraints, complex business processes, controls, and workflows that are not addressed by consumer technologies.

What's a CIO to do?

1.  Embrace mobile devices and the cloud when they make sense.   We do support iPhones and Android devices for email.   We do support the cloud for image exchange and a private cloud for hosting community physician electronic health records.  BIDMC Information Systems is considered "consumer device friendly", which helps my reputation.

2.  The expectation of new infrastructure and applications every 6 months tempered by the reality of 18 month hospital project plans requires intense communication.   This week, I sent my staff a plan to create  "IT concierges" for our key stakeholders, ensuring that monthly project updates keep users informed and better align expectations with reality.

3.  Meetings with disgruntled stakeholders are really important to maintain credibility.  "Presence" of the CIO can really make a difference when customers perceive the pace of enterprise IT innovation to be slower than the consumer marketplace.

4.  Maintaining agility and flexibility without being dogmatic ensures the CIO is not the rate limiting step to innovation.  I've always said that if emerging companies can provide superior service at lower cost to any product we have currently, we should openly evaluate it.   Customers will appreciate that IT has a culture of innovation even if product life cycles are longer than the consumer marketplace.

5.  CIOs need to accept that 10% of users will dislike you on a given day because enterprise technologies are unlikely to keep pace with consumer technologies.   Rather than get frustrated, realize that by focusing on continuous measured progress, you'll create a trajectory that prudently moves forward, balancing security, innovation, and functionality.   As my daughter would say, Ganbatte!

Complexity, unrealistic customer expectations, and resource limitations make the job of CIO increasingly difficult.   By focusing on the possible, communicating your plans broadly, and accepting consumer technologies for the use cases that make sense, the CIO can continue to thrive.


Dennis D. McDonald said...

John, thank you for this information. Accommodating the pace of change seems the hardest problem of all given how rapidly consumer technology changes. This will be an even more significant problem the more we require the mobile device to support specific business processes that require more IT support than currently required for standard apps such as email. I'm trying to address the planning issues associated with this in this series of posts and would appreciate your comments:

Dennis D. McDonald
Alexandria Virginia

Anonymous said...

"IT concierges" What a great idea. Would love to hear about your implementation. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

David Bernick said...

Saw this product today:

Enables Enterprise-level controls over most consumer devices. Best of both worlds? No idea what the "performance" is like or even if it really works, but they just got some funding. Seems like a reasonable idea.

Adrian O'Connor said...

Hi Johm,

You spoke before about how you manage your emails. I can't seem to find that post now.

I've very curious how you manage 1000 emails per day, even if you remove yourself from all non essential publications. I'm still getting roughly 100 emails a day which require an answer in some form or another (ICT Manager). My emails is already my main working tool and I'm finding it difficult to keep on top.

My strategy so far has been to Read then Repond\Delete\file, then move on to the next one.

How does one manage 1000 emails per day?

John Halamka said...

My email triage strategy is here

Anonymous said...

Do you only provide email to mobile devices, such as the iPhone, or is that just one of the services you provide? In my organization there is a big push to provide "everything" to mobile devices. If you do provide more than email, what type of technology(s) do you use?

Janet G IT@IntelSME said...

Intel recognizes that our employees rapidly embrace new devices and technology and want to bring them into the workplace to make them more efficient in their jobs. We feel that Intel IT’s role is to protect the enterprise, enable new technology and empower our employees: these are not mutually exclusive goals. IT cannot be a roadblock to new technologies, as employees will find a way to use them by going around established corporate policy. We have found it is better to put in place appropriate training, policy and guidelines and then allow employees to select the tool that suits their personal work style and needs. In fact, we are actively integrating employee-owned hand-held devices into our enterprise. We’ve written white papers that share our journey in this area and you can read them here.

Janet G

Adrian O'Connor said...

Thank you John. I've book marked it now so I wont lose it again.