“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”
— Henry Kissinger
In the last few days there have been a couple hotly debated articles in the twittersphere regarding ITs position to the consumerization of IT. On Tuesday the kindling was provided by Rachael King’s article “Nearly half of IT managers still against BYOD trend” and yesterday’s was a piece by Galen Gruman “Guess what? IT isn’t afraid of consumerization after all.” . The resultant 140 character exchanges from these articles that I participated in and witnessed were passionately argued from both perspectives. Those on the vanguard of mobility scoffed in disbelief at those who cling to the fixed infrastructure of the past. On the other side, those desiring consistency and security remained baffled at those who are buying into this cloud and mobility “hype”. All in all, if the IT industry could have been represented by a manual transmission car over that last few days you would have been able to hear the gears grinding and feel the car jerking from a long ways off. This will only continue in the long run as we shift gears from a technological world-view dominated by the PC to a mobile one – from a single point access to anytime-anywhere access. This is a shift not only in hardware but in role as well. What IT needs most to smooth out the impending ideological clash, is CIOs and IT leaders who have a deep understanding of the value of mobility, can maintain a cool head, and communicate a clear vision.
It will not be possible for IT leaders to set the correct tone for the organization without a deep understanding of the implications of a mobile workforce with a persistent cloud connection. This really is key to anything else that follows. To lead well during this next phase of IT, it will be imperative to comprehend the value proposition of a mobile-centric world as it relates to your organization. This does not mean, however, blind submission and acceptance of all things mobile. Understanding the value of a tool allows one to know precisely when to use it as well as when not to use it. Understanding the value will allow you to be able to speak articulately in response to the “whys” and “what ifs” that will arise. Understanding the value proposition of mobile will also assist you in seeing through the emotional excitement, hype, and concern while responding with a reasoned approach.
The new versus the old, the way of the future versus the secure, the cost savings versus the headache – it would be easy for anyone to get caught up in the debate and the emotion. Yet, as a leader, you must resist. There will likely be both enthusiasts and conservative members of your staff when it comes to mobility. This is not to say that you can’t be impassioned toward mobility, but derision toward either side will only produce suspicion and mistrust. Leverage your understanding of the value proposition to quell tension, concern, and excitement. By avoiding the emotional froth created by the stirring up of the IT waters you’ll be able to maintain respect as a leader and give people the opportunity to want to see your vision implemented.
CIOs and IT managers need a clear vision for mobility that is communicated throughout the organization. This means not only the IT department but for the organization as a whole. A well communicated vision for mobility in an enterprise will demonstrate ITs relevancy as well as assist in reigning in rouge employees, insecure data silos, and shadow clouds. Your job as the IT leadership for the organization is to be ahead of everyone else. Laying out this vision allows everyone to move along a predictable path that you, rather then they, set. Your vision must also include a viable career path for your staff. As roles and responsibilities change it is bound to bring up employment security concerns. Communicate how you plan on realigning roles and resources as things change. Can you leverage mobility to free up staff to work on more strategic initiatives? Your vision should fully leverage the value of mobility for your organization.
The next few years will prove to be as exciting, if not more, as when the PC was introduced into the enterprise 30+ years ago. Make sure you are setting you, your team, and your company up to leverage a mobile-centric world to its fullest extent. Be the kind of leader that gives people the strong desire to want to be part of what you are planning. Inspire people to want to shift into a new way of thinking. Give people a new outlook on what is possible and how they can succeed!
Benjamin Robbins is one of the founders of AdminBridge – providing IT Administration from mobile devices. For more information visit http://adminbridge.com