Irving Wladawsky-Berger's Insights on TechnologyBy Samuel Greengard Print
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, an IT industry executive for more than 40 years, offers his thoughts and insights on current trends in technology and the IT field.
By Samuel Greengard
Few IT industry executives boast a résumé as impressive as Irving Wladawsky-Berger. After spending 37 years at IBM—where he was responsible for identifying emerging technologies and marketplace developments critical to the IT industry—the Cuban born engineer (who came to the United States at age 15) has worked on cloud, Internet, e-business and supercomputing initiatives for IBM and served as a strategic advisor to Citigroup since 2008. He is also a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and a visiting lecturer at MIT's Sloan School of Management and Engineering Systems Division.
In addition, Wladawsky-Berger, who holds an M.S. and Ph. D. in physics from the University of Chicago, served as co-chair of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee from 1997 to 2001, under President Bill Clinton. He currently serves on the board of directors for four firms and is on the advisory board for USC's Annenberg Innovation Lab. Baseline recently caught up with Wladawsky-Berger and asked him to offer his thoughts and insights on current trends in technology and the IT field.
Baseline: What is your take on today's IT environment and how it's changing?
Irving Wladawsky-Berger: These days, technology permeates every aspect of business and every aspect of the economy. It is extending its reach throughout society. There is no longer a distinction between which parts of the business relate to IT and which do not. Everything relates to IT.
BL: What do you see as the IT megatrends?
IW-B: Over the last few years, things have gone to a whole new level with the advent of mobile devices, cloud computing, social media and big data. We have a remarkable array of apps, services and information available. These tools are remapping the way people interact and the way organizations approach a wide array of tasks.
Succeeding in this environment requires more than technology. Organizations require proper governance in order to address very real concerns about security, privacy and regulatory compliance.
BL: What is the effect of the technology convergence now taking place?
IW-B: The digital enterprise is here. It's not so much about how an enterprise uses any given technology as how it combines and intertwines them. The nexus points are mobile, social, clouds and big data. The equation is increasingly 1+1+1+1=44, for organizations that get it right.
BL: Where do BYOD and the consumerization of IT fit into the enterprise picture?
IW-B: In many cases, employees have daily access to technology that is more advanced than what they use in the workplace. It has been described as the Sunday night-Monday morning scenario. They play with the most advanced technology on Sunday night and then drop down a few generations of technology when they go to work on Monday morning.
Nevertheless, consumer technology is rapidly filtering into the enterprise and increasingly driving IT. And, in terms of BYOD, the cat is out of the bag. Employees are demanding that they use their own smartphones, tablets and other devices. As a result, organizations must develop the right processes and methodologies. They must ensure that these devices and tools are well-integrated and that the right security protections are in place.
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