A day doesn’t go by when you pick up a post or tweet or news feed that says our planet is firmly enveloped in a technology paradigm shift like never before.
Info graphics abound wowing us with amazingly gigantic numbers on how technology is being consumed by our planet, and that over the next 5, 10, 20 and so on years the numbers will scale to points where we don’t have the words in our vocabulary yet. The range of devices and software available ( and coming our way in seemingly endless waves of launch ) is overwhelming.
No way is this more felt than in the corporate world where the alignment of terms such as big data and social networks has meant that many senior stakeholders now take these ‘info graphics’ to heart as they search for ways to align IT with their business in a way that they can understand.
Strategy is now a hard conversation when there is so much ‘outside influence’ on the heavy lifting decisions an organization has to make, yet there is a now a groundswell of opinion outside the traditional IT room that means that strategy now has to embrace business change through technology at a pace never seen before in the modern technology era.
Going ( or gone ) are the days where IT’s ability to ‘align’ to the business was limited to web sites, plumbing ( lights on not the water ), MIS departments, and a bit of remote access. Now IT ( and not really IT by the way, but technology which is different ) has significant competition in the form of all things ‘innovative’, ‘big’, ‘transformational’ and ‘agile’.
And I get this. But what I don’t get is this.
IF WE ARE IN THE TECHNOLOGY PARADIGM SHIFT OF ALL THINGS NEW THEN ….WHERE ARE THE EXPERTS?
Now before I argue the case I do distinguish between the true corporate technology paradigm shifts versus the high street technology paradigm shifts so lets say Hybrid Cloud, xYOD, web services versus augmented reality, wearable technology, 3D print and so on.
One argument against will be that we have had similar waves of new before and we all coped in terms of delivering IT service. The experts developed from the existing ‘managers’ of the IT department and they became expert on the job. Certification and training was the order of the day to ensure a level of skill was in place to manage the impact of change. Books and manuals would patiently explain a piece of technology and IT would feed upon these resources to get their expert badges.
An argument for will this will be that we have never had a user population so tech savvy and able to use multiple information sources seemingly at the same time in a never ending search for realtime information. So that the term expert is lost in the fact that everything appears so new that the IT service is falling way behind in their ability to understand what they are managing, and that there are no experts around simply because the ‘new stuff’ hasn’t ever been seen before or that the books and manuals have not been written ( nor will they.)
Another view supporting this lack of experts is that the industry has developed new ‘roles’ that potentially run counter to the traditional job roles in IT. You now meet as a matter of course people with titles like ‘Evangelist’ or ‘Service Architect’ who on paper appear to be able to knit together all the old and new into a viable IT service to support both today’s and tomorrow’s needs.
And I have a view that many IT organizations have fell foul of a ‘trap’ where their policy for ‘ringing the changes’ with IT personnel has slowed down whilst this paradigm shift speed up, causing a ‘expert gap’ that is now hurting. Take this example. If you have a service manager or support analyst who has been in the same role for 20 years what do you have? Someone who is an expert in what happened 5, 10, 15 years ( yes ) but someone who can transition to something to support the business in the next 5 or 10 years ( perhaps not ) . On the flip an organization that has IT people who have arrived in the last 5 years may have an edge with skills more akin to innovation and open mindedness which will develop an expert culture.
I mean who would have thought asking this question was a relevant thing to do “Can you tell me the breakdown of your IT organization in terms of length of stay in their job function”.
Of course it is a balance but It does interest me a lot, especially as the audience for the ‘expert’ has now moved dramatically from being able to identify and fix those thorny tech problems we all used to be able to do 10 years ago ( and now forgotten how to ), to being able to design and service and IT organization that has no choice than to become a different type of expert.
And this really do interest me as you meet lots of people who ‘carry the title’ but often are not as you find, yet in positions of great influence.