Why IT professionals are driving the new 'Renaissance'

Summary:If Leonardo da Vinci or Benjamin Franklin were alive today, they would have been IT pros. The multi-disciplinary spirit these visionaries shook the world with so many years ago is coming back. And guess who is in a prime position to capture that spirit and carry it forward? IT professionals and managers, says Vinnie Mirchandani is his new book.

If Leonardo da Vinci or Benjamin Franklin were alive today, they would have been IT pros.

Leonardo da Vinci: Would he be running Windows or Linux?

Leonardo da Vinci: Would he be running Windows or Linux? .NET or Java EE?

With the multi-disciplinary talents they possessed, visionaries such as da Vinci, Franklin, and others shook the world. Now, the world demands new versatility. And guess who is in a prime position to capture that spirit and carry it forward? IT professionals and managers, says Vinnie Mirchandani in his new book.

We've been talking about it for some time on these blogpages: how IT managers and professionals have been thrust into roles far beyond managing bits and bytes and worrying about server provisioning and security protocols. Today's IT shop is at the cutting edge of a revolution reshaping business to the very core. IT managers and professionals are being called upon to be leaders, evangelists, and guides pointing business to the new way of competing in today's crazy global economy -- digitally, virtually, and analytically. IT expertise is also also being applied to new areas such as cleantech, green technology, and medical advances.

That thinking forms the core of Vinnie's book, The New Polymath: Profiles in Compound-Technology Innovations, suggests that professions such as information technology are expanding beyond the bounds of managing operating and storage systems. (Polymath is a Greek word for one who excels in many disciplines.) In fact, IT lays at the very core of many of the important changes now reshaping business and society.

For example, Vinnie takes a look at GE's approach to corporate IT -- not as a cost center, but as a profit center -- which makes the business even more innovative. The company "is innovating based on savvy understanding of global technology economics and the astute leveraging of licensing and intellectual property rights." For example, GE maintains a "professional networking platform" called SupportCentral that "has more than 50,000 communities with over 10,000 experts across almost 20,000 business process flows." With 25 million hits a day in 20 languages from GE employees around the globe, SupportCentral, as Vinnie describes it, is "the biggest business-focused social network you have never heard of."

The IT culture GE supports helps it to maintain its lead as one of the most innovative companies in the world. As Vinnie describes it, "in a world focused on light innovation around social networks and mobile devices, GE is making industrial innovation fashionable again.... Its internal IT innovates on its own and coaches its business unit on intellectual property and technology contracting issues as the businesses increasingly embed technology into their products."

Vinnie also discusses the growing role of analytics in helping guide corporate decisions, but cautions that it takes knowledgeable humans to make the most of the capabilities the technology unleashes. "A wide range of analytical tools and technologies is available to enterprises today. Particularly encouraging is the progress around unstructured analytics, predictive analytics, and data visualization. Of course, recent misses in economic forecasting have reemphasized the need for 'human intelligence.' For that reason, it is nice to see a new generation of analytical 'artists' like Paul Kredrosky [author of the 'Infectious Greed' blog] emerge and the move to a decision-, not data-centric, analytical framework."

Taking a cue from the Renaissance nature of the today's technology, Vinnie distills much of his thinking into a RENAISSANCE Framework, which encompasses the following:

  • Residence: "Homes better technologically equipped than the office."
  • Exotics: "Innovation from left field."
  • Networks: "Bluetooth to Broadband."
  • "Arsonists" and Other Disruptors.
  • Interfaces: "For all our services."
  • Sustainability.
  • Singularity.
  • Analytics.
  • Networks.
  • Clouds.
  • Ethics.

(Leonardo da Vinci portrait credit: Wikipedia.)

Topics: CXO

About

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. Joe is co-author, along with 16 leading industry leaders and thinkers, of the SOA Manifesto, which outlines the values and guiding principles of service orientation. He speaks frequently on cloud, SOA, data, and... Full Bio

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