CIOs Must Exploit Smartphones, Tablets and Cloud Services

IT departments were slow to adopt the PC. Adam Hartung says CIOs need to learn from that mistake and be bold about adopting cloud services and mobile computing.

I'll never forget a conversation I had with the head of IT at PepsiCo's Pizza Hut division in 1984. At the time, Pizza Hut's technology operation was completely mainframe-based. The IT chief (who had a PhD in computer science) told me clearly, and quite loudly, that PCs were toys that would never be part of his organization. Over his dead body.

Unfortunately, it turned out that way, figuratively speaking. PCs eventually became the primary technology for Pizza Hut employees to build spreadsheets, write memos and create presentations. In the field, PCs became the dominant technology at the point of sale. The CIO failed.

Oh my, that was painful.

This, far too often, is the norm. Technology revolutions are ignored--or worse, downplayed--by IT departments that are stuck maintaining legacy hardware and software, about which IT employees have deep knowledge. Meanwhile, end users see great potential in new technologies, but they're stymied by an IT department that's stuck in the "show me it's better" mind-set.

Oh, and the "IT controls the budget" mind-set. Ouch.

Now we have employees taking advantage of cloud services, smartphones, tablets and app stores to get their work done. Under pressure to produce quarterly results, these end users--from front-line managers to C-level execs--don't care about the in-house ERP or CRM application, or IT's official standards for PC or BlackBerry use. They're ready to follow the Nike motto: Just do it.

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