Adapt, evolve, innovate – or face extinction

I’ve written before (some might say too often) about the impact of tablet computers (and smartphones) on enterprise IT. This morning, Andy Mulholland, Global CTO at Capgemini, wrote a blog post that grabbed my attention, when he posited that tablets and smartphones are the disruptive change lever that is required to drive a new business technology wave.

In the post, he highlighted the incredible increase in smartphone and tablet sales (also the subject of an article in The Economist which looks at how Dell and HP are reinventing themselves in an age of mobile devices, cloud computing and “verticalisation”), that Forrester sees 2011 as the year of the tablet (further driving IT consumerisation), and that this current phase of disruption is not dissimilar to the disruption brought about by the PC in the 1980s.

Andy then goes on to cite a resistance to user-driven adoption of [devices such as] tablets and XaaS [something-as-a-service] but it seems to me that it’s not CIOs that are blocking either tablets/smartphones or XaaS.

CIOs may have legitimate concerns about security, business case, or unproven technology – i.e. where is the benefit? And for which end-user roles? – but many CIOs have the imagination to transform the business, they just have other programmes that are taking priority.

With regards to tablets, I don’t believe it’s the threat to traditional client-server IT that’s the issue, more that the current tranche of tablet devices are not yet suitable to replace PCs. As for XaaS (effectively cloud computing), somewhat ironically, it’s some of the IT service providers who have the most to lose from the shift to the cloud: firstly, there’s the issue of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” – eroding existing markets to participate in this brave new world of cloud computing; secondly it forces a move from a model that provides a guaranteed revenue stream to an on-demand model, one that involves prediction – and uncertainty.

Ultimately it’s about evolution – as an industry we all have to evolve (and innovate), to avoid becoming irrelevant, especially as other revenue streams trend towards commoditisation.

Meanwhile, both customers and IT service providers need to work together on innovative approaches that allow us to adapt and use technologies (of which tablets and XaaS are just examples) to disrupt the status quo and drive through business change.

[This post originally appeared on the Fujitsu UK and Ireland CTO Blog.]

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