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?

Expanding on My LinkedIn Recommendation of AjiSpace

(The Aji NetworkI recently posted a LinkedIn update on my profile in which I recommended an offer of The Aji Network called “AjiSpace”. In this post I will expand on what I could only fit in LinkedIn’s 200 characters or so.)

The Aji Network

First, my relationship with The Aji Network is that of a student. The Aji Network is an educational organization for business professionals who are working to succeed in the top of the marketplace. It is for people concerned ultimately with providing a good life for our families throughout our careers and the ensuing 20-30 years of retirement after that. As a result, they target their offers for a narrow group of businesspeople who are serious to learn fundamental practices and distinctions that can help them succeed in their careers.

So while I write on an open blog and you can take or leave what you find here, you are not investing in learning from me for yourself or your career as you would through The Aji Network. For over thirty years, they have helped professionals achieve their lifestyle, financial and business ambitions, producing incomes well north of $400,000 per year. Their “Business Professional’s Course” (BPC) has seen student incomes rise over 80% during the 2-year period of enrollment, in contrast with the significant debts accumulated by businesspeople pursuing MBA programs.

The Aji Space

The Aji Space is an online learning management system with various writings, video and forums for students to participate in learning together how to succeed in our careers. It is like a gymnasium for practicing, sharing our thinking, and sometimes making mistakes and trying again. It gives us room for reciprocation (working together), recursion (deepening our knowledge) and recurrence (rinse and repeat) and in many ways is an oasis from the jargon and unprofessional moves we frequently encounter in business.

When paired with real practice a little every day (like writing your blogs), AjiSpace is more than another business book listed on the New York Times or another training session or seminar given by a professional speaker. It is a unique and powerful offer, and I am happy to recommend it.

Personal Results

If you are wondering at this point, my ROI in the BPC was over 300% in the first two years, but the meaning of anything we do is the full measure of its effect on our lives. I learned about autonomy and the drift of innovation. I learned about indifference in the marketplace and how to go beyond what people commonly call “differentiation” to study marginal utility, competitive learning, superior trust & leadership and reading the world. I learned how to make more powerful, higher value offers, and I learned about myself as an offer that I can design to be more valuable in the story of my career.

I am obligated to The Aji Network for learning like that, which I could not get from graduate school or from a professional association run by volunteers. My BPC group started with nearly 100 people and ended after two years with around 30, as students found that their “tuition” did not entitle them to succeed as universities may imply.

After the BPC, I continued for the next three years in the LEIP program, which is available as a strategic and competitive learning offer for a smaller group of BPC graduates who blend with those of previous years into an ongoing discourse of business leaders. It is an exclusive community of serious professionals whom I deeply respect. I continue to participate to this day as a student in AjiSpace as I have described.

As a general rule, I do not intend to promote products and services extensively on these pages. As I am working through other content I want to produce, however, I continue to encounter learning from The Aji Network that I want to reference when I get there. So I chose first to create this post so that I can link back to it when appropriate.

Please leave your comments or questions below. For more information, you can also refer to the Aji Space landing page at