7 Ways to Prepare for the IT Infrastructure of the Future

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 10-27-2011

As our feature article "The Future of IT Infrastructure" notes, for CIOs, it's the best of times and the worst of times.

On one hand, the opportunity to tap into technology and use it to achieve a competitive advantage has never been greater. (Witness the experiences of CIO Dale Potter at Ottawa Hospital and Wells Fargo & Company's Scott Dillon.) The new physics of IT offers a wormhole to a place -- and a performance level -- that couldn't have been imagined only a few years ago.

However, laggards increasingly find themselves staring into a black hole of Industrial-Age thinking and a hopelessly outdated network infrastructure. They can easily become shackled by inflexible systems that limit their ability to innovate.

These seven pointers on how to prepare for the IT infrastructure of the future were culled from extensive interviews with industry experts at Accenture, Capgemini, and Ernst & Young, among others.
  1. Stop fighting consumer technology trends. Embrace them and learn from them to build a more nimble and efficient IT organization. This is especially true for mobile devices and social networking tools.
  2. Think modular, not monolithic. Niche applications and services will rule in this emerging environment. Successful organizations will develop an ecosystem of trusted partners.
  3. Move beyond alignment. Moving forward, the goal isn't to simply sync up with business needs, it's to drive the business forward by assembling tools and technologies--such as social media, mobility, cloud initiatives and more--that foster new strategies and opportunities and drive positive business change.
  4. Rethink security. Data is increasingly device agnostic. Although it's wise to build basic security into systems and devices, the focus must be on the data throughout its entire lifecycle.
  5. Converge and consolidate. A converged network that supports unified communications and the cloud provides a robust platform for advanced capabilities and next-generation services.
  6. Build analytics into everything. Although analytics isn't a replacement for human thinking, it can uncover patterns and point out emerging opportunities--whether derived from a traditional database, social media stream or other source.
  7. Embrace project management and project portfolio management. These highly structured tools can help mesh IT with the business and provide a common framework for addressing increasingly complex issues and challenges.