IT Focus Shifting
An enormous snarl of poorly integrated technology is an increasing burden on business, according to corporate IT leaders participating in the Information Systems Executive Forum conference at the Business School in March.
“You’ve got a hodge-podge of systems . . . strung together through different networks and each speaks a different language,” said Marv Adams, CIO at Ford Motor Co. “I think we have a decade of serious cleanup of infrastructure and data.”
Integrating the “unarchitected mess” that spread through many companies over the past quarter century may consume 40 percent of IT resources, Adams said.
Lynne Ellyn, CIO for DTE Energy, called these legacy systems “software shantytowns” which leave servers vulnerable to potentially devastating worms and viruses. “It’s like living in a high-crime area with the doors and windows open,” she said. “It’s only a matter of time before the Internet is down for a week.”
Adams said the corporate IT department is growing closer to the executive suite as IT plays an increasingly important role in product development and helping companies understand consumer behavior. The focus of IT departments is shifting, he said, from customized systems development to systems architecture, project management, and business analytics.
“There is no substitute for good solid infrastructure,” Ellyn said. “There is no substitute for good application development. . . . Complexity is the enemy. It creates every sin we have. And software is the most complex product on Earth.”
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Mary Jo Frank