Success in IT often depends on timing -- the tough-to-master skill of knowing when to apply a new technology, or when to discontinue an older one.
The enterprise world is full of examples right now: When is it time to start focusing on big-data and analytics? When is it time to start reorganizing one's marketing along the lines of a social business? When to discontinue a commercial product in favor of an open-source one? When to move to cloud services?
These kinds of questions are never purely financial. ROI calculations can help; analytics surely help. But there is typically a point when action must be taken, or not -- when a final judgment call must be made.
The business literature is filled with advice on how IT professionals can determine the timing of various strategic and tactical moves. This advice is sometimes very detailed, but a few generalities can be drawn from various sources:
Determine whose decision it is before making a move. Sometimes, IT has been put into a position it doesn't belong in. This is the case when departments have opted to circumvent IT -- a typical maneuver, apparently, in cloud service adoption. So at least one consultant, Info-Tech Research Group, advises IT pros to figure out what IT's job is -- and is not.
Get the big picture. Experts advise knowing as much as possible about market conditions that surround a move to new technology. For example, changes wrought by big-data, social networking, and mobile computing are changing such industries as pharmaceuticals in profound ways. If IT can see far enough ahead to know what new approaches will be required, it's probably time to start positioning IT for those changes. Sometimes that can be as simple as recasting partnerships with marketing, or assigning personnel to manage internal social networking.
Break the solution into parts. In a recent newsletter, David Hill of the Mesabi Group notes that big-data can be considered as "1) the creation, capture, and organization of the data itself and 2) the analytics processes by which some benefit -- such as insight, actions to be taken or monetary transactions -- deliver value..." By breaking big-data into two parts, IT can better decide what steps to take when putting together a big-data plan.
Knowing when to act is never as simple as it may sound in the business literature. But by acknowledging the need to define timing and understand the issues involved, IT pros can set the stage for success.
— Mary Jander , Executive Editor, Internet Evolution