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Why ‘IT innovation’ is less about technology, more about integration

What are we talking about when we are talking about IT innovation? The answers are as varied as there are people to answer the question. And the answers rarely have much to do with technology, which might seem odd when you are talking about innovation with CIOs.

But that’s the impression I got from several CIOs whom my colleagues and I interviewed at the recent Gartner CIO Leadership Forum in Scottsdale, Ariz. The theme of the conference was “Creative Destruction: Radically Rethinking IT.” That in itself is certainly a way of thinking about innovation.

Here’s Bryan Smith, CIO of Volvo Construction Equipment North America:

“I think of the process that either individuals or businesses go through of purposefully making the decision to do something in a different way, even though it might be disrupting a comfortable way of doing things,” he said. “Creative disruption is necessary, because it becomes so easy to say, well, we’ve always done it this way.”

The “we’ve always done it this way” philosophy will eventually hurt your business and your career. Given a lack of much technology innovation of late — the cloud may be new and innovative, but the technology behind it is not — CIOs are making up for it with new thinking about what the business wants to accomplish with the existing technology.

That’s why the CIO is so bound up in the innovative process. Change and growth rely on close businesses and technology integration. The CIO is the one person in your organization who can start bringing the two together.

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