Has your organization ever been quick to capitalize on an emerging technology? Which ones was it late to adopt?

714 views6 Comments

Vice President for Information Technology in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
When I was at Vassar college, we jumped into virtual worlds and Second Life very early on. We had some faculty who were interested in it, but not in the social aspects; we were interested in using it as a place to model things that you couldn't readily build in the real world. One member of my team recreated the entire Sistine Chapel in Second Life to scale, which got a lot of recognition. We had school kids from all over the U.S. and around the world visit it. Their teachers happened to be into virtual worlds, so they’d bring their kids and show them how to zoom in to see all the images up-close. But he also found that there are tapestries by Rafael that they display in the Sistine chapel very rarely because they're sensitive to light. He was able to find those and put them into the same space so that you'd be able to view them.

I don't think it did much to our organization; it's not like Vassar needed name recognition to attract students or anything, but it did allow us to have some interesting conversations with other higher education institutions about the role of immersive virtual technologies. We discussed what experiences they could offer that schools couldn't provide in the real world. There were psychology faculty who did experiments, and there were other interesting ideas that never quite caught on, but remnants of them moved forward. It was an expensive time sink to do something clever that had a half-life of about three or four years, but it was something we looked at. 
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
When I was at Columbia, we were very early to the cloud. We didn't know it was the cloud when we were doing that, we were just starting to move things off premise. By 2015, we had already put in Canvas and Slate, which were leveraging a data center that was not our own at that point.

When I first walked into my current environment, I didn't have a cloud strategy, a data warehouse or even a security team. So in terms of basic blocking and tackling, there were a lot of missed opportunities for any kind of technology in the space. We can all argue about how many security tools there are and how valuable each may be, but to not have anything was a missed opportunity. I'm thankful that our budget was good last year and I found neat products that closed a lot of gaps.

Organizationally, this might be a combination of technology but also a criticism of IT in general. We used a very operational model: If things weren't "really broken," nobody fixed it. But they never made the organizational opportunity to strategically look at problems differently and find technologies to solve them. When you put the right pieces in place, people say, "Wow, how'd you clean up all that junk?" But getting technology that works and is right for your organization makes a big difference.
Senior Director CIO Office in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I was involved in a company where there were opportunities to take all of our data center infrastructure and move it into the cloud. I sent folks up to Seattle to get AWS training and we did a couple prototypes. There was a lot of resistance. We were maintaining about 400 customer-facing systems that delivered different kinds of information-based products. In an information services company, it was difficult to make that transition and get the product teams to embrace the cloud from a business model perspective. But I’ve never worked in a company that was ahead of the game when it came to leveraging state-of-the-art data technologies.

People would talk about how important data was, but there's an upfront investment that you have to put into worrying about data quality and other fundamentals. You're not going to see great business results from that for one to three years. I haven't been involved in a company that was farsighted enough to say, "Take some money, clean up the data, get us some state-of-the-art BI ML modeling tools, and let's start talking about predictive analytics that will help drive this business."
2 Replies
Vice President for Information Technology in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

Did not doing that burn those companies, or did it just prevent them from accelerating and capitalizing?

Senior Director CIO Office in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

It was more of a missed opportunity than anything else. I don't know if there was a competitor that emerged, but a lot of them got there eventually. I just couldn't make the case to accelerate movement in that direction.

Managing Director in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
When Pricewaterhouse was doing a lot in management consulting services, I was helping their clients with technology, which was mostly mainframe computing — IBM mainframe, McCormack and Dodge MSA. Those were the basic ERP systems but they weren't even ERP; they were just general ledgers for accounts payable, accounts receivable and report writing. Around 1986, Pricewaterhouse recognized a product out of Germany called SAP. They made an investment in teaching everybody in consulting services how to implement it, first on the mainframe, and then when SAP released a few years later, the R3 solution, which was their first client-server platform.

So it wasn't that Pricewaterhouse implemented SAP to run its own business, but it was looking at technology to solve business problems, and anticipating what might be a key differentiator in the future. The other company doing this at the time was Anderson Consulting, which eventually became Accenture. Pricewaterhouse and Anderson Consulting were the two companies that dove into that head-first and it changed the whole playing field for both businesses.

Content you might like

Improving delivery speed of IT output17%

Modernizing older IT systems45%

Increasing stability of IT systems18%

Implementing more consistency in IT delivery and support9%

Enabling more innovation within the IT teams6%

Maintaining control over IT spend1%




CTO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
No, we haven't published corporate guidance establishing guardrails for use of commercial generative AI services.
Read More Comments
1.7k views1 Upvote2 Comments

Director Of Information Technology in Manufacturing, 501 - 1,000 employees
Following - interested in this question also.

4.5k views6 Upvotes1 Comment