Creating Options

An important measure of the success of an IT strategy and architecture is its ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
• CIOs are faced with long investment cycles, while technology lifecycles are only getting shorter. IT needs to be ready for trends and requirements that are completely unknown when the investments are made.
• A good part of IT innovation that drives new business opportunities comes from consumer IT, and CIOs need to be ready to link in. Today this comprises the 2.0 world: Trends on the horizon include augmented reality and sensor technology, for example. Analyst company IDC predicts unstructured data will grow at twice the rate of conventional data. Already by 2010, unstructured data will make up the majority of all enterprise data.
• Many businesses are investing in value chain integration, requiring processes and systems to link to a wide variety of processes and systems owned by customers, partners, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
IT offers an infinite range of alternatives and unlimited choice in how to tackle these challenges. Winnowing down a wide range of technology choices requires discipline. CIOs can demonstrate the required leadership by turning unlimited choice into a set of directed options.

Choices are not the same as options. Choices, or alternatives, represent all possibilities. We use the term options in the sense of financial options, acquired with the express purpose of being exercised at will. Creating options means taking matters into your own hands. In a skillful hand, a portfolio of options helps decide what initiatives to expand, which ones to delay, where to change direction, and what to expedite. If you have specific options - as opposed to unlimited choices - you are better prepared for change.

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