“Jack be nimble. Jack be quick. Jack jump over the candlestick.”

I grew up with nursery rhymes. These quick, fun stories, often passed down through the centuries, were great teaching tools for aspiring young minds. And quite often, these dramatic lessons with a great morale ending were based on real-life people – and events. For instance, “Jack be Nimble” actually referred to Black Jack Smatt,* an English privateer who was notoriously clever (nimble and quick) in evading capture from authorities who wanted to hang him during the Golden Age of Privacy.

And while Black Jack Smatt was not prone to jumping over hot flames, the candle stick was part of a medieval game. Each participant was supposed to jump over a burning candle so the flame was not extinguished (and they were not burned). This was seen as a good luck charm.

Fast forward to today. The simple story of “Jack be Nimble” still has its application in today’s world – especially the complex world of IT. The increasing risks of cybercrime, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks – as well as threats posed by stodgy old legacy systems and untested, unproven emerging technologies -- all fan the flames of disruption, instability and uncertainty. These challenges were recently borne out by a new study from the World Economic Forum (WEF), which detailed the top risks impacting businesses today.

But the wise IT executive of today can take a lesson from the “Jack the Nimble” story. While the rise of new technologies and digital transformation is wreaking (some) havoc on IT infrastructures and management, there is also a positive side to this change. It is forcing businesses to rethink their IT strategies and how they persevere and adapt to these changes.

New approaches to data management and storage, coupled with increased information delivery systems and cloud adoption, are helping companies become more like Jack – not just nimble and quick, but better and more profitable. All with the intent of not getting burned (at least, not too badly).

Best of all, many of these companies have just started the journey of IT transformation. And the end of the story hasn’t been written yet…

* Note: Black Jack Smatt was also played by Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.