What do we really need? Innovation of the third kind?

I was reading the article on ZDNet on “How IT can save us from recession” and found it hilarious.

Ken McGee VP & Gartner Fellow said that IT innovation will be a key factor in helping the US get out of recession. IT departments should implement an action plan “Innovation of the Third Kind”.

The first kind of innovation is when IT people devise plans to meet technical needs that have been observed by IT staff, McGee said. “Infrastructure modernization is an example,” he said.

The second type of innovation is when IT introduces solutions to deal with business needs that have been identified by business people. These solutions only produce incremental change from an infrastructure perspective.

What is needed now is innovation of a third kind, said McGee. This comes about when IT people introduce projects to meet business needs that have been observed by IT staff, he said. The senior analyst said IT executives should start scheduling meetings with business unit managers and executives, review their IT portfolio and decide what is going to go ahead, what could be trimmed and which products are going to be cut. “Have business plan in place before getting the green light”, said McGee.

It is a very noble thought and a true statement if it was limited to “IT innovation will be a key factor in helping the US get out of recession” and without any explanations or types of innovations. I agree to the fact that US needs innovation and it is what has made it sustain the top position in the world. We are in dire need of research and innovation right now but it should not be just limited to the IT industry. Speaking of IT industry, it would be a good idea to go back and evaluate the projects and to revise the priority of IT projects to make sure that they are in-line with business objectives. IT can definitely help Business get through this difficult time but they should do that anyways (be it a good time or a difficult time). IT and Business are two sides of a coin. They should go hand in hand with each other. What Ken said about IT meeting with Business to find out ways to improve should be an internal process of every company. CIOs are a part of top-management from 1990s. It is not a new discovery but it is something that every company needs to understand and give it much needed importance. Secondly, thinking broadly of IT innovation and not linking it to any particular business but an innovation that can help solve/improve a general business problem/practice. For example: Virtualization. That is an innovation which solves general business problem and maximizes the output from the resources. It is said to reduce head counts in monitoring and administering computer systems but a recent survey from Gartner also mentions that the people affected are moved to new roles. The focus then changes from maintenance to improvement/expansion.

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