IOUG Insight: The Future of IT Requires Resilience and Change

The topics of resilience and change have been on my mind a lot lately for a variety of reasons. First, IT is always at the center of technology change, so that’s nothing new. We must continually learn and keep abreast of new technology and trends before they even materialize. Second, I am an IT leader in the energy industry, and when one is at the mercy of natural resource supply and demand, there will be peaks and valleys in production and financial performance over the years. With this latest dip in energy prices, I sense a different perspective—one of working smarter and more efficiently, emphasizing innovation, and analyzing decisions with an enterprise perspective of what is right for the company at this time, not just IT.

Resilience is a complex constellation of behaviors and perception that are difficult to define. It is often described as bouncing back to one’s previous state after a traumatic or significant change. This can occur at a personal or organizational level. The truth is that sometimes we are resilient and bounce back, and sometimes we do not. The reality is we do not really know why we are capable of resiliency some of the times but not others. The same is true of organizations—after a dramatic shift in the market or the introduction of a disruptive technology, some organizations are resilient and find new ways to add value, while others are simply unable to recover and disappear into the night.

With the introduction of many disruptive technologies in the past several years—cloud services, business analytics, data science, better understanding of business functions, machine-to machine communication, just to name a few—what intrigues me is how we continue to think of IT in the same way. If we are not resilient as IT professionals and as organizations and prepared to take more risk, how will we survive this paradigm shift? As I ponder this topic more and more, I wonder whether organizations must be flexible so as to embrace these technologies in order to gain a competitive edge. I also wonder whether these organizations are more likely to attract resilient IT professionals who can see these disruptive technologies coming over the horizon and start thinking about how to utilize them in order to enable business functions. I see organizational resilience as part of an organization’s culture. In order to be resilient, there must be open-mindedness to quickly change strategy if necessary, an entrepreneurial mindset, and a willingness to take reasonable risks with technology.

I see the same behaviors of resilience as necessary in IT professionals if we are to continue to be relevant in the next 5 years. One thing is very certain—there will be more change in the coming years, not less. The question becomes whether resilient IT professionals are necessary to build a resilient organizational culture, or whether resilience must be nurtured by senior leadership within organizations which will, in turn, attract resilient IT professionals? This would make a great research topic, as it is not a question I can answer. It is worth thinking about as we speed along the superhighway of technology disruption and organizational change. Will you choose to be a resilient IT professional and bring that mindset into your organization, or will you be left in the dust by the side of the road? Not a comfortable question to contemplate, but the answer will determine where you take your IT career in the near future.

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