Monday, October 26, 2009

Some CIO's and the Devil They Know

On October 26th Tech Republic published the results of a survey of CIOs that asked “Who do you trust more as a technology partner, Microsoft or Google?” The answer, CIOs trust Microsoft more by a 2-to-1 ratio!

Source: Tech Republic: IT leaders trust Microsoft more than Google, 2-to-1

On first reading the headline it’s hard to countenance. On reflection it makes its own, quirky sense. The CIOs that fought Microsoft in the 1990's are retiring. The then-young Turks who championed personal computing are increasingly CIOs. The Microsoft universe, from the desktop to SharePoint is in the IT budget and the CIOs direct influence. Google, in large part, is neither. Das Kloud is an externally introduced disruption of scale. Its a natural reaction for most people to initially resist it. Not that they should, long term. But the reaction is not as strange as first reading would lead you to believe. On reflection, not so much dissonance in our cognition.

As we lurch headlong towards 2010,
the personal-computing-champions, once barbarians, are now IT executives. As a group they appreciate Microsoft in a similar way that their forebears preferred IBM and the like. Additionally, Microsoft offerings like SharePoint, for Web 2.0, are "inside the firewall" or inside the CIO's control. Google much more represents Das Kloud. Google is an outside-agency. Its go-to-market approach is certainly that of an outside-IT-control agency.

So, its not terribly alarming to find IT as being Microsoft friendly, at least in comparison to Google. This even though Google, by casual observation, is far better positioned to "get" and create leverage-for-business from Web 2.0 than relatively stodgy Microsoft. Microsoft's strengths and benefits aside, the I'm a Mac vs I'm a PC advertisements work for a reason.

At the end of 2008 James Kaplan et al of McKinsey wrote in "Managing IT in a Downturn" that:

"IT has come a long way over the past decade. Budgets grew rapidly during the dot-com boom and the run-up to Y2K, then declined drastically when the bubble burst. Over the following years, CIOs, working with business unit leaders, improved the performance of IT departments by streamlining application portfolios, reducing infrastructure costs, improving governance, consolidating vendors, and outsourcing many activities."
The first reaction of such people will be to take care before they jump right into Das Kloud.

Working on Step 2

However sensible that caution may be, time does not appear to be on their side. There's a mountain of information in Morgan Stanley's recent presentation on Web 2.0. One nugget shows the speed with which the "walled gardens" of the traditional telephony carriers' hold on the market as the portal to the Mobile web broke down in the UK in a one year span, going from a 57% to a 22% share, under the onslaught of a doubling by Google and the entry of Facebook at a 40% share:

Source: Morgan Stanley - Economy + Internet Trends

All of the market trends are towards mobile computing. All of it is towards the use of a dizzying array of technologies in peoples hands and in the devices and tools they use every day. The marketing and sales organizations of all corporations will have to link to, participate and, if possible, take advantage of this. Das Kloud is coming.

Perhaps the question asked by TechRepublic is a bit different from our theme? They asked who CIO's trusted as a business partner. If they asked which vendor will be most involved in transformational technology initiatives they may get a different response. One wonders.

A little over a decade ago I sat in the CIO's staff room at a substantial financial firm and the executive responsible for all IT Operations gave a report on Microsoft. They weren't ready yet, couldn't scale properly, couldn't report properly, couldn't escalate issues properly, but, all the major business units were rushing headlong into Microsoft platforms and both Microsoft and the central IT group was going to have to learn how.

They did.

Google, as a vendor to central IT is in a similar situation as are all uses of social media, Web 2.0 and cloud computing. Theses are innovative technologies and they haven't yet caught up to the concerns any CIO has in managing IT as a business within a business. But they will.

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