Welcome to Five for Friday with Michael Krigsman, CEO of Asuret. Michael is an analyst, writer, Enterprise Irregular and photographer who has spent a lot of time trying to understand the cause of failures in enterprise IT and especially software. He has written extensively on the topic and writes a regular column on ZDNet. You can also follow him on Twitter.
Today we discuss his background exploring enterprise IT, the impact of cloud and the value of meditation.
BM: Michael, you are a noted expert on enterprise IT strategy and IT failures. What first captured your interest in this topic and what caused you to go so deep in the subject?
During the nineties, I ran a consulting business working with a variety of large companies to develop enterprise software consulting tools and process methodologies, including for implementation. Despite the high level of investment that vendors and customers spend to improve implementations, the problems remained. It also became clear that implementation challenges created a huge financial and human capital burden for these organizations.
Therefore, I could see there was a serious problem, with large consequences, to which the industry was not paying sufficient attention. In addition, these failures tend to arise from human dynamics and collaboration disconnects that have little to do with technology. All this made the IT failures situation interesting.
BM: Dave Letterman has his top 10 list so give us the Krigsman Top 5 list of the largest IT failures you have seen in your career.
I prefer to think about the aggregate impact of IT failures around the world, which is estimated to be three trillion dollars per year – there are crazy sizing numbers out there, but this one seems reasonable. Given this scale, we must consider why the number is so high.
Of course, difficulties arise any time you have complex human dynamics in a situation with lots of moving parts and tremendous amounts of money. That’s a given. However, in IT we also face an awkward set of economic relationships and connections between enterprise customers, vendors, and system integrators.
Although these relationships have positive aspects, they are also fraught with conflicts of interest. That’s why I use the term IT Devil’s Triangle to describe how these three groups interact. In general, the solution requires improving communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing among members of the Devil’s Triangle. It sounds like a cliché, but aligning goals and interests really does solve many problems.
BM: Cloud computing is at the center of the discussion across a variety of enterprise software segments. What is the impact of cloud computing on IT failure rates?
Cloud projects tend to be smaller and more iterative, which automatically creates stronger ties between IT and the business. That alone is a significant benefit with the direct power to reduce IT failure rates.
However, it is also important to remember that business process change also accompanies cloud projects, so we must not forget that aspect of the equation. However, iterative developments helps meter out the process change more slowly over time, which is highly beneficial and conducive to project success.
BM: When you look at the market right now, where do you see the biggest opportunity for innovation and market disruption over the next 24 months?
Cloud offers organizations a catalyst to change processes and drive toward innovation, which is actually more important than cost savings alone. We tend to focus on technology as the fascinating, shiny object. However, in the enterprise, technology is only useful as the means to enable business benefits.
In the coming years, cloud will become more accepted and commonplace, except for situations subject to regulation or unique requirements. For example, the CIA will not outsource its intelligence data operations and American Express will continue to keep transaction processing on-premise. However, these are the exceptions; over time, it is inevitable that more and more enterprise data will move to the cloud.
As you can see, I am a big cloud fan!
BM: You have been known to add your own photographs to your articles in ZDNet and elsewhere? Are you passionate about photography? Where do you spend your time when you aren't making the world safe for IT?
I love taking photographs, so when it makes sense I use my own photos on blog posts and white papers rather than buy stock art. Aside from photography, I am a strong believer in meditation and have done that for many years. On the surface, it may seem like my work on IT failures has a negative aspect, but I see it as a way to support people who are genuinely trying to do the right thing. That point of view comes from meditation.