The rise of the IT “super genius”

The future of the IT organization?

The successful IT professional of 2020 will interact with users more like the Apple Genius Bar consultant does today…

What a quote from Joe Jorczak of Oracle Corporation (posted by Andy Jankowski earlier this Spring)!

One theme of his comments was that user-generated applications would arise from the mishmash of technologies available today, combined with the plethora of distribution channels for distributed, single-purpose apps.

In that scenario, users exploit the “salad bar” metaphor I like to use so much. They take what they want from available enterprise services and leave the rest behind.

Only beyond simply leveraging a Service-Oriented Architecture, Andy is proposing they increasingly build their own apps on those services… and the experienced CIO will now be asking “How should we support these apps?”

From salad bar to genius bar

Now, enterprise architects have envisioned the great IT salad bar (or more likely their own analogy) for ages…

    • before web services
    • before Java
    • before CORBA
    • before DCE

I figure the notion of mix-and-match, integrated systems ought to go back to the dawn of the network itself, if not earlier…

Similarly, we have endured many phases of “user-generated” applications. There were a few vendors of “plain English” programming languages who predicted them when I was in high school back in 1984!

What does it take to be a genius?

So whether it happens this time around or not, my question is what would it take to make IT into the “genius bar” for supporting user-generated applications?

Let me post a few ideas, and then you can add your own so we can chat about them (not in any particular order):

Super Genius

  1. What services we can get from the outside world, especially (but not always) for free, we need to catalog, stay abreast of changes and make available to these “apps”
  2. The services that are special to our organizations MUST become service-oriented… to make use of a given feature, apps don’t want to have the whole ERP system tag along
  3. We must take on a customer service (even a “retail service”) perspective if we are not already working on it, and we have to put in place ways to measure “true” customer satisfaction
  4. We have to think very carefully about how much “control” we really need, while we also build in flexibility and fluidity to support enabling these apps to flourish
  5. We must reset our notions of security and confidentiality to lock down and protect what we must secure, while intentionally and strategically exposing what is really not that proprietary anyway
  6. We have to uproot the idea that we can “manage demand” from our management philosophy – the industry changes, customer expectations change, and demand simply “is”

To be clear, these are not suggestions I think every IT organization must follow… they are ones that I see as necessary if the genius bar is in our future. What else do you think will change if we increasingly see user-generated applications in the future? Can you envision new roles and even new management structures?

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The Corvette wait list and the Google+ “back door”

Hmmm, I see... circles?

My company is full of the old-school kind of nerd, not really the “social media” kind of nerd.

It’s cool… there is room for everybody to be a nerd where they are particularly suited.

I run a custom software company in which one of our guys got an invite to Google+ and found a way to get everyone else in… as you might expect from resourceful custom software guys, right?

Anyway, the result is just about the whole company is now using Google+, and all but one of us “got in” after the invitation cutoff date.

Many of our folks still lurk on blogs, in fact if you are faint of heart beware that many are lurking behind this blog post as you read it…

Most don’t have a Twitter handle, so they are definitely not social media nerds… but last Friday the “buzz”seemed to be mostly about Google+.

It is fun and engaging, and hard to pull away from. Early conversations were the kind you expect when people are just figuring out what something means to them.

The Google+ wait list?

Some will drop off, and some will get pulled deeper in… the “limited access” strategy is a lot like the Corvette wait list… it makes you want it more.

For my teams to feel they have found a back door in makes it special for them, too… and I suspect it is a back door that was left propped open, with the kitchen light left on.

Now, I am not a conspiracy theory guy. I just think if the invitation cut-off was a form of wait listing strategy or not… it sure ended up producing the same outcome in terms of behaviors.

…And the kind of people who can find the back door to get in might feel a little better for winning the prize.

…And the kind of people who have cracked into the platform have already demonstrated they will play with the rules to see what happens next… so why not “invite” them in early?

…And along with the social marketers, aren’t those the kind of ravenous fans you want to build (like Facebook with its college-only initial strategy)?

So this is perhaps a little shameless, but I am going to have some fun with you. If you want in, you will have to post a meaningful comment below. Of course, most of my coworkers are already “in”, but I would love to hear your thoughts about this, too.