In retrospect, we all should've known how it would end; although, it's easy to excuse IT's self-deceit. The need for compliance, security, order, not to mention the technical prowess required - certainly all of these seemed to call for a strong, central IT-controlling authority. But the signs that data tends toward chaos were there, if we'd known to look - the shadow spreadsheets, the silos, the unending requests for new variations of reports.
What IT didn't foresee was SaaS technologists going rogue, selling directly to the business units and circumventing all the careful controls constructed by IT. SaaS, cloud and now social media - all of these are playing a role in changing IT's relationship to the business and data.
There's no point in arguing that the battle is over and the business has been won, according to Jim Ericson, editorial director of Information Management:
Claudia (Imhoff) spoke to what's increasingly obvious, that IT has lost the battle for control of data and information assets that business users have access to. It's not just me or (DM Radio co-host) Eric (Kavanagh) I've never seen so much consensus flowing amid so much change. Pretty much everybody is saying, "you can't stop all this, you probably don't like what's happening, but you do need to look at it and think about it."
Imhoff suggests that IT focus on "insight and oversight, the ability to monitor environments to see who's using what, and what for." It sounds a bit IT as Big Brother, but in this age of compliance and regulation, maybe some of that's inevitable.
I can't speak to that, but I do think IT has another big role to play in this shift, and that's as integration enabler - because, thus far, the SaaS companies certainly aren't doing it on your behalf.
In fact, farther down in the column, Ericson writes this:
In a couple of days I'll post an update with one of our very smart 25 Top Information Managers who works in retail. He's now essentially telling me that, sure, agile development and operational improvements are fine, but he needs to make the connection between his Facebook presence and his CRM system NOW. That's because, in six months, it may no longer be Facebook he's most interested in for his social input. If you think that's presumptuous, I can point you to a few precedents and fads sorting out right now.
That's going to require integration that's fast, focused and effective, with the emphasis on "fast."