The role of IT was never static. Technology changes alone bring about major changes in the role of IT and influence the future of IT. This really should not be debateable since we see everyday how technology changes redefine various professions or business functions through automation and simplification. Yet, when you describe a future of IT that is less strategic people get upset and accuse you of being a contrarian just for the sake of it.
In my last post The Future of IT Looks More Like Human Resources and Facilities I apparently did not lay enough of a foundation for my position or perhaps many people are just not ready to accept the trends affecting the role of IT. So let me give it another pass here this morning.
- Technology maturity is such that we are in an era of true plug-and-play, one-click installs, and drag-and-drop integration of very sophisticated software.
- The democratization of technology has arrived as a result of technology maturity and the emergence of solutions designed for functional managers without IT dependencies.
- Traditional IT functions are being self-performed by non-IT departments at record levels.
- The number of IT staff required in an IT organization to support a given technology portfolio will continue to go down.
- Pressures for a decentralized or federated organizational structure are not going away.
- The business case for on-premise in-house IT services is weakening every day.
- Non-IT functional managers are making more of the technology purchasing decisions.
- The future of IT is more likely than not to see more of the IT systems and services shift off-premise to third party providers including cloud service providers.
- The future of IT is more likely than not to see more IT functions eliminated through new sourcing models, technology changes or simply transferred to functional areas.
- The future of IT is more likely than not to reflect a role of IT based on servicing the remaining on-premise infrastructure and coordinating the procurement of services.
The importance of this discussion and yesterday’s post could not be overstated. CIO’s cannot allow their desire to be more strategic, which is an important aspiration, to prevent them from seeing and planning for the likely eventuality of the role of IT.
I realize a few CIO’s won’t consider making any changes until they hear it from a Gartner or Forrester. For these CIO’s they should consider that while Gartner is telling them to be a more agile and strategic IT organization, they are still focused on pushing a technology focus which is how their bread is buttered.
Fortunately, most CIO’s do see these trends and understand the implications. They do understand new organizational structures will be required and the role of IT along with the role of the CIO have changed. For them the only questions relate to just how fast the rate of change be and what is the stopping point.
CIO’s should be planning for the changes in the role of IT brought about by technology changes and considering what organizational structure makes the most sense going forward. What CIO’s really need to consider is what is the upside and downside of inaction versus action. Either way, do you really want your CEO to get to that place before you do?
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