In his recent book, “Thinking Fast and Slow”, Princeton University Nobel Laureate, Daniel Kahneman, introduces us to the principle of Theory Induced Blindness – the adherence to a vulnerable belief, even though a counterexample may exist, about how something works that prevents you from seeing how it REALLY works. So once you have accepted a theory, it is extraordinarily difficult to notice its flaws, trusting instead the community of experts who have already accepted it.
Over the years, it seems that the realm of the Corporate IT community has been rooted in protecting ‘Technology Theory’ for the company. As the experts of design, specifically for application development (AD) and information & integration access, the long standing belief was that stitching together applications and processes required precise, well-defined access points, usually in the form of APIs. Today, even though the business users have been pained and slowed by the scarcity of this restrictive practice, the blindness still prevails for corporate IT and (sadly) its customers, as they struggle onward.
In truth, corporate IT organizations have never really had to engage on a competitive landscape for their services. As the once empowered purveyors of corporate information shielded by exclusionary practices, IT has had a nice run without much disruption. But even after so many years of Big Budgets, Big Hardware, Big Applications, Big Consulting and the intense scrutiny from company employees and executives, the reoccurring question persists…
The reality check has arrived in the form of real competition. Unfortunately for IT, the challenge has come from within – their own customers, the employees of the company – the same group that they once served are now fiercely engaged, combative and driving change.
Mass Amateurization of IT
The high technology barriers and transactional costs that once made the IT organization a mystical entity requiring an ‘IT Blessing’ for even the most remedial of tasks is being dismantled. A new kind of employee is onboarding into the company. A more technology savvy millennial worker is charting a new course for the company and the ‘Known World’ of information access and sharing is proving to be a more expansive ocean of knowledge than was previously taught.
Encompassing social, mobile and cloud norms, BIG Data has burst onto the enterprise, seemingly as a shock to IT. Suddenly from the rank and file of the company, we see the rise of very qualified, amateur IT “professionals” – the line of business workers – seeking immediate answers. This BYOD employee is challenging long entrenched IT values and expertise while intrinsically focused on creating innovation and competitive upside for the company.
This is a defining moment for IT as the demystification of technology (and IT) occurs. The blunt realization that mass amateurization has swept through one’s profession should be a transformational event for IT workers, because the deconstruct of traditional corporate IT organizations is underway.
Falling transactional costs and technology barriers will allow for more experimentation by the business users and there will be failure as a matter of course, but this will be part of the learning process. The ability to ‘Fail Fast & Learn From’ is what these millennial workers expect. IT must recognize and support this new and important business style because if not, these workers will find new like-minded partners that do.
The real stewards of the corporation are its trusted employees. If IT organizations are to become agents of change, they must come to grips with the business requirements of their fellow employees to connect to any source, in near real-time, without the limitations of API dependencies.
In parallel, the intuitive nature for people to ’self-serve’ is a fundamental belief of modern, web-based applications. ‘No-Dependency’ models are critical for timely information access and sharing. So there is a reasonable expectation that Integration-as-a-Self-Service™ will move closer to reality, as business users strive for more autonomy to experiment.
There is some good news for the competitive IT Professional. When real, impactful innovation occurs, it raises the baseline knowledge set and standards of the company and thus the need for genuine, highly-skilled specialists move to the forefront. Those IT Professionals that add high value to the business will be in the greatest demand and will become leaders and invaluable assets in transforming the company.
But in order to lead, IT leaders must first prove they have cured their blindness by finding the ‘counterexample’ platform for agile access and collaborative information exchange.
Posted by: John Yapaola, CEO
Thanks to Colin Camerer, for the title inspiration.