IT Strategy: Is a trend your friend?

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Or foe? 2008 predictions are in; some are in the works. Which one are you going to follow
Tis the season for predictions and trends. My email has its share of notes from editors wanting my opinion on the trends that will shape IT in 2008. Try this one on for size: In 2008 CIOs will stay away from trends and do what is best for THEIR circumstances.
CIOs find themselves in hot water because they follow like sheep the latest trend or quickly ape what others are doing. The old saying: Monkey see, Monkey Do is missing a critical line. So here is the complete version: Monkey see, Monkey Do, So Monkey screw. Yes, an independent survey has made this prediction that blindly following others – aka trend setters – leads to more screw ups than previously reported.
OK, so I made up the survey but hope you get the point.
First, most of these trends are not statistically accurate – they are like those cute surveys/advice in the “10 things to turn on your man” genre no intelligent woman should follow; least of all someone capable of being a CIO.
Second, even if statistically valid, they should not be followed for statistical reason. If you do what the “majority” or “large percentage” or “80%” of the people are doing then are you not relegating yourself to mediocrity? What else is the definition of mediocrity if not following the average?
Third, the whole idea behind business is competitive differentiation – that is how value is created. Period. If your strategy is the same as everyone else’s then how are you getting that differentiation?

So stop following the trends for there is nothing magical about being in the magic quadrant. Follow cold hard facts as they confront you in your environment. If there are lessons to be learnt from others then so be it – but that means learning, analyzing and then applying NOT following.

Is it time to cancel your membership of the “flavor of the month” club?

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