Your IT department should behave like a jellyfish, says Gartner

Analyst firm asserts coordinated action without central brain is the way to cope with turmoil


IT organisations that want to thrive in plague-time need to model themselves on jellyfish, says analyst firm Gartner.

The metaphor was offered today in the keynote of the virtual Asia-Pacific Gartner Symposium, which thanks to a certain virus will this year precede the event’s EMEA incarnation.

Speakers outlined their belief that the COVID-19 pandemic, social upheaval and climate change have collectively delivered a chaotic and unpredictable environment in which business must become “composable”.

Jellyfish help us understand the idea of micro-enterprises that can work across the organisation to respond to a crisis or take advantage of an opportunity

Those who have lived through “agility” may well have found the presentation familiar: IT decision-makers were urged to make their infrastructure modular, get good at orchestration so that different components can operate in harmony as and when required, and to do that while also allowing different parts of the organisation to work autonomously.

Jellyfish were then introduced to the conversation as an example of composability. While such creatures lack a brain, analysts suggested that they’re impressive because the beasts’ tentacles can act independently or demand assistance from other tentacles. The lack of a central brain isn’t a problem, the analysts argued, so long as whatever is up top can co-ordinate action and send the right signals.

“Jellyfish help us understand the idea of micro-enterprises that can work across the organisation to respond to a crisis or take advantage of an opportunity,” delegates were told.

Analysts did acknowledge that some jellyfish are highly toxic and/or drift around without control over where they are going but suggested that’s not entirely different to many businesses as they face the turmoil of 2020.

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Presenters also suggested that such turmoil may not have been entirely bad for IT shops, as the need for remote work has made the benefits of collaboration technology plain to even those who don’t like change. Another nugget of good news: 69 percent of company directors are now awake to the need for accelerating digital business.

On the downside, Gartner found that IT budgets are going to shrink by six percent over the coming year.

Analysts delivering the keynote advised CIOs faced with such cuts to crack on without complaint, because they still have jobs at solvent businesses. ®


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