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Great cloud presentation in Toronto/the importance of org development

25 Jun 2015 6:32 PM | Michael O'Neil (Administrator)

I had an opportunity to co-present with Jonathan King (VP Platform Strategy and Business Development at CenturyLink) yesterday, and as is always the case when I hear Jonathan speak, I came away feeling like I had opened a new window into how, where and why IT is evolving.

In this case, there were three highlights that have stars and exclamation points in my notes. The first is a rethink of what "DR" means. Jonathan talked about substituting the word "stress" for "disaster," and applying DR principles to mitigating other kinds of challenges, such as security incidents and performance issues. I think this is an incredibly useful re-interpretation. DR has often been kind of marginalized in IT planning, especially within SMBs, as it is hard to allocate cycles and budget to a situation that might never come to pass. By broadening the definition, we increase the use scenarios - and may help stimulate approaches that can be more broadly adopted and applied than has been the case in the past.

The second highlight was a definition of "hybrid" that I haven't seen before, one which speaks to management orientation rather than technology: the idea of a hybrid approach involves optimizing core technologies and increasing agility. Jonathan's presentation included examples of the differences in these two objectives, and of the benefits derived from coordinating them (e.g., Big Data). There is a lot of talk about Gartner's Bi-Modal concept, which is similar, but I liked the way that Jonathan positioned his take on the issue.

The third and most compelling highlight concerned the impact of organizational structures on cloud success. Jonathan cited several references, especially "Team of Teams" by General Stanley McChrystal, that provide examples of how organizational strategies can affect agility and absorption of new ideas.

I found this point especially valuable. I've used a simple diagram for many years that has three lines: one that moves sharply up and to the right, representing the ability of technology to effect change; one moving more gradually up and to the right, representing the ability of people to absorb change; and a third that echoes the second, labelled "the actual rate of change." The point has always been to show that improvements in technology (changing the slope of the first line) don't necessarily translate into improvements in business performance. Until Jonathan's presentation, I had never looked at how the slope of the *second* line could be altered. I think this is a really important issue - one which I'll be interested in exploring in future cloud discussions!

PS - here's a version of the image I found on my hard drive, which helps illustrate this last paragraph: 


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