cio shared article

By Howard Baldwin
It's an adage as old as time (or at least as old as the invention of the personal computer): Technology is destined to cycle constantly between complexity and simplicity.
Remember the hassle of attaching peripherals in the days before USB ports? Remember the anguish of developing applications for competing OS interfaces before HTML? We fixed those problems, and whaddya know, we moved on to others.
"Complexity grows over time," says Bryson Koehler, chief information and technology officer (CITO) of The Weather Company in Atlanta. "Systems are built to do one thing, and then they're modified, morphed and bastardized to do things they were never meant to do."
Complexity occurs when technologies overlap one another -- "when you add new stuff but keep the old instead of getting rid of it," agrees Dee Burger, North America CEO of Capgemini Consulting.
Even as recently as three years ago, Burger says, "people thought they could do massive replacements of technology" -- say, move everything to SaaS applications in the cloud -- "but now we're seeing way more adding of technology rather than replacing." Just consider how many new collaboration tools the enterprise has embraced without replacing or reducing email.
The result can be a tangle of overlapping, redundant systems that costs money, slows innovation and hinders organizations from identifying new business opportunities.

Sometimes you have to turn something off and see who yells. - Dee Burger, Capgemini Consulting
"I've been in discussions with CIOs who want to replace something, but they can't be sure of what would happen if they did," Burger says. They're reluctant to find out what kind of chaos would ensue. But "sometimes you just have to turn something off and see who yells."
Computerworld spoke with five CIOs who did just that and lived to tell the tale. Read on for their advice on how to tackle complexity and emerge with a more efficient, agile and auditable technology stack.....

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