Earlier this week, I spoke on a panel at the Churchill Club with CIOs from Google, PG&E and Walmart. Like my peers, I’ve seen a lot of tech trends come and go, whether client/server, ecommerce, digitization…to more recent buzz around big data, BYOD and cloud.
This time something seems different. What I am noticing is the rate of change of technology is actually speeding up…everything is accelerating, all the time, getting faster and faster. I’ve been in an industry used to the mindset of buying an asset and sweating it. But some of these tech trends, like cloud, are enabling us to more quickly experiment with new ideas in shorter intervals of time. Using a small amount of opex budget, any size customer (like 2 guys in a garage or a company the size of Juniper) can harness the elasticity and scale of the cloud. Today’s IT can afford to be more experimental and “rent” a cloud-based service or data center to tackle business pain points. And it’s no big deal if it doesn’t pan out or fails, because not a lot of time or money has been wasted; therefore, we can quickly move on.
Ironically, I see this accelerated rate of change also make its way to overall IT investment trends. Whether within the business, the board room, or even the audit committee, I’ve seen IT move from a support role to now holding a strategic role in transforming the business. Wherever IT can demonstrate increased value to the business, it is no longer a question of how much will this cost…but how quickly can IT deliver this new value. No longer is the talk around how long we sweat the asset, but how can we offload the compute or the app altogether to the cloud.
IT has “become the business”. During the panel, Karenann Terrell explained how Walmart knows the immediate impact a 4 cent price increase has on banana sales in Northern Phoenix. Karen Austin described how PG&E’s gas records are getting digitized via geospatial information. Ben Fried shared how a conscious decision was made to in-source a helpdesk at Google to improve customer satisfaction as well as simultaneously create an on-the-job training program for new IT workers to operate that help desk.
Just like my peers at Google, PG&E and Walmart, we are keeping up with the pace of change at Juniper, whether it’s supporting BYOD, or migrating to the cloud, etc. Where I see us heading is making the work experience on par with the consumer experience, so that the work experience becomes just another app you use on your smartphone. The consumerization of IT has gotten us to this point, we need to continue to innovate further into the business.