IT’s Top 10 Interests – Why the Perennial Oldies?


CIO IT's top tenI was perusing the September 15 issue of CIO Magazine (ok, I’d been on vacation for nearly 4 weeks, and was catching up on my massive reading pile!) when I noticed the chart recreated to the left.  (Note:  I could not find the chart in the electronic edition – only the paper magazine.  Also note, I added the bold red highlighting to 4 of the items.)

Something Old, Something New

A couple of things struck me about this data.  First, I don’t know what the survey methodology was or the demographics behind it, but there’s not much of a spread between these “top 10 issues that technology decision makers are researching now.”  Also, I wonder how CIO Magazine differentiates between Collaboration Tools and Wikis, blogs, social networking?  Furthermore, I suspect that if statistical significance/margin of error were calculated, the data may have little meaning.  However, giving CIO Magazine the benefit of the statistical doubt, I am stuck by the fact that some of these issues have been around for 15 years or more.

I wonder, is it that business intelligence, business process management, enterprise architecture and content/document management are changing so much in 2009 that they’ve made it into the top ten technology research issues?  Or is it that IT leaders still have not made much real progress on these perennial challenges?  I suspect the latter.  I think there are just certain issues that IT leaders wrestle with that are always just on the periphery of their “big three” initiatives, and as such, never get wrestled to the ground.

Enterprise Architecture – Now You See It; Now You Don’t!

For example, most IT organizations I know are on their 3rd or 4th attempt to crack the Enterprise Architecture nut.  They’ve dabbled in this with a couple of people in the Chief Architect role that were subsequently reassigned, then formed large groups focused on this, but disbanded them after too much time with too little results, then reformed them as dispersed networks, and watched helplessly as these languished and eventually faded away.

Business Intelligence – Here We Go Again

Similarly for business intelligence (and associated data warehousing and related efforts).  Note also the connection between Enterprise Architecture and Business Intelligence – if you cannot crack the EA nut, you probably won’t get far with BI!

Content/Document Management – Why Can’t I “Google It”?

Ditto for Content/Document Management.  While Google manages to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, IT professionals have a hard time helping their business users find an internal document that was created yesterday!  And note again the connection with the EA conundrum!

Business Process Management – What Happened?

This is the perennial issue I just don’t get.  In the 90’s everyone was reengineering business processes.  How come we no longer know how to do it?  Was it that the work was largely “outsourced” to management consultants, and IT organizations never learned how to do business process management?  I personally believe this is a major factor.  Just as many shops effectively outsourced their Enterprise Architectures to SAP and Oracle (See my old post on Did You Accidentally Outsource Your Enterprise Architecture)  so did they outsource their BPM efforts to Accenture, Deloitte, IBM and so on.

It will be interesting to look at CIO Magazine’s data on this 5 years from now!

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