On this, my final full day at this October's Gartner Symposium in Orlando, as Hurricane Wilma churned up the Yucatan Peninsula, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer underwent a grilling from Gartner analysts Thomas Bittman and Dave Cearley, Gartner analyst Jorge Lopez expounded about what's on the mind of the CEO, and we were offered up an intriguing view into the projected genetic make-up of the "extreme individualized" worker in 2015, one shaped as much by their experience growing up with interactive technologies as their niversity pedigree.
Although Wilma's uncertain track cast a lingering, albeit distant, shadow over the occasion, Gartner analysts continued to convey a bullish, if cautious, future for information technology and its impact on our world. It was an apropos tone, considering the title of the first session I attended, "The Impact of IT on Business Risk." Its key message seemed to be that business risk as it relates to IT is the ultimate hedge, and that only with conscious and conscientious preparations in advance of a catastrophe can risk be appropriately mitigated. And one need look no further than in the 2005 rearview mirror to realize that such forethought is warranted.
As to the mind of the CEO, the net of it was this: While growth is still in the sights of most, there are clouds on the horizon, and not only those cast by Wilma and the parade of recent hurricanes...continued terror attacks, the price of oil, slowdowns in retail spending and overall consumer confidence...all cast their own shadows, which is why IT environments must continue to be positioned for flexibility and adaptability, and which is why the focus here at Gartner on SOA and modular IT services.
In summary, who knows what's headed our way, but we need to prepare our companies and invest for growth, while carefully scrutinizing what investments we place where. Constant change is the constant, but with determined, focused strategic and IT planning, this storm, too, shall pass...and the opportunities on the horizon suggest that all the preparations for disaster -- and growth -- will be well worth the effort.