Gartner: Wake up IT managers, you're mediocre (at best)

Technology managers are mired in mediocrity, wait for technology vendors to innovate and fear being a first mover. The result: The U.

Technology managers are mired in mediocrity, wait for technology vendors to innovate and fear being a first mover. The result: The U.S. doesn't innovate and CIOs risk becoming extinct.

That sobering message was delivered by Gartner analyst Steve Prentice.

"Now is not the time for complacency or mediocrity," said Prentice, opening up the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in a keynote in San Francisco.  "This industry is in danger of becoming one of failure. We've come to accept mediocrity as the norm. It's not a lack of technology or skills. The problem comes down to a lack of vision."

Keep in mind the subtext of this speech--CIOs in attendance that are in the mediocre pack may get more Gartner consulting services--but the message has some truth. In fact, I lamented the extinction of the innovative CIO on Friday. India has the IT mojo and U.S. could get lapped even though economic data seems to support growth. "IT is a declining or stagnant market," says Prentice.

Among key points from Gartner's analysts:

  • Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president of research at Gartner, said consolidation in the hardware and software markets are bad for users and doing little for innovation. It doesn't help that managers seem content to wait for the next suite.
  • Wanted: Innovation. As technology managers hang back for the next software upgrade, their bosses (CEOs) are going to be looking for innovation. The concern: If CIOs don't deliver CEOs will bypass them.
  • India is setting the pace in IT innovation. Why? India's economy is posting growth of 7 percent and technology budgets are growing 16 percent. Bottom line: The IT projects that are built to scale to service 100 million customers will come from India, says Sondergaard. By 2015, Gartner estimates that technology engineered for developing economies will drive 20 percent of disruptive IT innovation worldwide.
  • The consumerization of technology. Customers, users and employees are all going to share the same infrastructure. The issue: Most companies haven't planned ahead. 
  • Services models will dominate. Customers will increasingly pay for technology as a service with rates based on use and business outcome (most likely ROI). If this happens some markets are toast.
  • Green IT matters. Sondergaard said that technology executives have to "get ahead of this curve on environmental issues." Why? IT activities impact the environment. "All suppliers and users of IT need to be cognizant of CO2 emissions. (Technology managers) can directly impact a reduction in CO2 emissions. Plan ahead. This topic is big and it is unpredictable," says Sondergaard.
  • IT departments will be defined by efficiency and rated by service. CIOs that merely focus on managing current infrastructure and products may be replaced.
  • Legacy systems are proliferating--still. CIOs are still piling on legacy information systems, which just complicate things for everyone. CIOs wallow in complications.