It’s time for an end of year list, and this year, I’m directing mine toward CIOs. If you aren’t a CIO, remember that snowballs roll downhill, so please read the list and be prepared to negotiate your role in these transformations. These changes aren’t just about technology. They point to shifts in hiring, and the needs of marketing and human resources. A meta-prediction for 2011: more and more CIOs will be held responsible for realizing the business value of the tools and solutions their departments adopt and deploy.
1. HTML5 will tempt you to be cool, resist the temptation. 2011 is likely to see IT organizations get experimental as HTML5 changes the way people develop for the Web. Complaints about web experiences may grow with premature HTML5 deployments that look cool, but create inconsistent UIs and incongruous experiences; making things harder to find, and reducing engagement. Although, IT organizations need to learn the capabilities of HTML5, CIOs need to lead the effort to create a consistent approach to the new technology that aligns with customer needs and brand expectations. Experiment internally, but don’t get zealous about showing off in public until you have the right design rules in place that add value rather than detract from it.
2. You will support social media and social networks. However, don’t get sucked in by every vendor that offers a social widget. If you implement too many social tools, say Saleforce.com’s chatter along with Microsoft’s community extensions to SharePoint, you will find that people won’t use either effectively, if at all. CIOs should help their organizations select an approach to social networking that takes into account internal needs and external integration (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) and negotiate with vendors to integrate with organizational standards.
3. Social networking will force IT to take up transformation management. CIOs have known all along that technology requires changes in practice, but they are too often held more accountable for IT reliability than for making sure the latest technology realizes its potential. With social networking and social media, the link between practice and technology has been obliterated and IT organizations will be forced to start acting like transformation agents rather than technology geeks. 2011 will see the most successful IT organizations helping people figure out how to work together effectively, across all digitally mediated social aspect of the business—and the organizations that rate them, from analyst firms to magazines and web properties need to get on board to include cultural transformation effectiveness on the list of attributes they evaluate.
4. One-to-One marketing adds new duties for IT. With One-to-One marketing, the offers may come from marketers, but the implementation of performance metrics, CRM interfaces and website integration remains with IT. And much experimentation is likely, so CIOs will need to work closely with CMOs to understand the value and efficacy of the often under-tested, but viral “strategic imperatives” (e.g., everyone is doing it so we should to) like Groupon. IT will be instrumental on delivering the promise of one-to-one marketing because as traditional customer segmentation gives way deep analytics and individual targeting, it will be IT that is held responsible for ensuring data integrity, supporting the use of sophisticated analytics and actively enforcing privacy laws as more and more customer information resides in corporate databases, or on servers accessed through contracted services.
5. Reputation management will change hiring practices. A career is traditionally represented through a CV or resume. That will start to change in 2011 as advocates for more holistic and dynamic views of experience start to emerge. This will lead to the advent of personal reputation management, which will not only capture work experience, but include a wide range of other metrics available through the web to inform partners or employers not just about accomplishments, but behaviors. Reputation management will affect IT in two ways. First, IT will need to better understand the new model for their own hiring. They may well want to be ahead of the curve so that the second, as HR starts to adopting a more inclusive views of experience and reputation, can be anticipated rather than reacted to. eBay does an adequate job of representing the reputation of customers and buyers, but look to services like LinkedIn (perhaps with expanded endorsements) and academic learning portfolios from colleges and universities to lead the way. Look for startups to start aggregating reputation information in 2011 to create a another crest on the social media wave.
6. Outasking will create new management headaches. With the growth of Internet services like freelancer, liveops, oDesk, mechanical turk, TopCoder and Crowd Flower, outtasking will take its place alongside outsourcing, further complicating an already diverse sent of “work relationship” models. This will cause CIOs to reflect on their own resourcing and management, leading the conclusion that traditional project management, incentive programs, people management and hiring practices will all need to be updated to meet the new reality. CIOs will also need to foster negotiation skills and demand solid contracts with their managers that clearly spell out expectations. But CIOs will also discover that the new reality isn’t limited to IT needs, as they start receiving demands from various functions as they outtask. These demands will include virtual private networks and e-mail accounts for collaboration, along with project management and HR integration so functions can automate outtasker results in their internal performance reports.
7. ROI will become irrelevant. No one knows how to effectively anticipate the behavior of complex systems, like a social network, against specific corporate goals. CIOs will need to say this and support their managers and analysts when they repeat it to internal customers. The response, for instance, to a message transiting through a social networked can’t be modeled ahead of time. Fortunately, social media offers strong tools for tracking messages after the fact. Combine effective tracking with the speed of communications and IT can easily run experiments that return meaningful results on real value with little time or expense. Large campaigns can easily be modeled with small groups before the final commitment to approach. CIOs will lead the charge on testing, tracking and adapting as more meaning pursuits than spending time and dollars on meaningless ROIs. Experience in social media will get CIOs thinking about other hard to anticipate IT outcomes and see social media as a way to create a more meaningful approach to measuring IT value.
8. Protecting Company Information Will Be Job One, at Times. The recent release of US government cables by Wikileaks just the beginning. Anticipated commercial revelations are already in the news (e..g, Bank of America.: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/wikileaks-next-target-bank-of-america/) and will drive corporate paranoia through the roof. CIOs need to be prepared to instruct their organizations on how to protect data, and be honest about they can’t protect. CIOs should start preparing today by understanding their communications infrastructure, communicating at all levels about integrity and internal compliance, and preparing a response plan that can connect leaks to sources quickly.