The Case for IT Control

Dateline: May 30, 2014

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

This week’s WRAP examines IT control. Recently, Information Week published a blog by Jonathan Feldman, Chief Information Officer for the City of Asheville, NC, titled IT Control is An Illusion.

In this blog, Feldman shares two points of view about IT control.  He says,

General Motors CIO Randy Mott argued for more IT span of control. Former Netflix cloud architect Adrian Cockcroft argued for less. They both made compelling cases, but I think Cockcroft’s view eventually will prevail.

Feldman summarized Mott’s POV,

Mott dismissed SaaS as a way for customers to “get even, not get ahead.” ….almost every IT aspect of GM’s global operations is a core competency, from procurement to logistics to manufacturing. (He concedes that areas such as benefits, where GM doesn’t stand to gain a competitive advantage, aren’t a core competency, but hiring is.)

Summarizing Cockcroft’s view, Feldman says,

“Don’t do your own undifferentiated heavy lifting.” In Cockcroft’s view, don’t build your own gigantic and highly available compute and storage infrastructures if someone else has already done so. Cockcroft’s choice at Netflix was to use AWS, what Mott would characterize as outsourcing the company’s core infrastructure.

Feldman’s own POV could be summarized as,

New technologies always go hand-in-hand with new business practices. And tight span of control is an old business practice that we need to move away from. As companies become more digital, IT must recognize that it needs to be the enabler and trailblazer, but not the sole source of digital tech.

What is your opinion of IT control?  Is it the source of competitive advantage and therefore something to hold tight and control carefully? or is it inevitable that IT must recognize itself as an enabler and not the sole source?  How do you make this decision in your organization? 

That’s a WRAP!  Have a great weekend!

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