IT: The Next Chapter

The IT manager isn’t going extinct.

Despite boom and bust cycles and ever-susceptibility to being a corporate whipping boy, technology remains essential to successful enterprises large and small, say technology executives. Sure, there are concerns about outsourcing, and new expectations and requirements, but some unexpected opportunities are emerging.

It has been a long road. The dot-com boom of 1999 and 2000 inflated IT expectations to the point where an implosion was inevitable. The bust gave rise to bloated budgets and a backlash against technology. Outsourcing further eroded the notion of technology as strategic. Now things are turning up courtesy of the need to replace aging technology investments, mandates by regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and companies that believe IT can yield competitive advantage.

“Respect was earned during the lean years. Lessons were learned. The IT guy worked more closely with business and regained the trust of business managers. Now people expect and demand a greater return on investment. Companies recognize they can’t live without IT,” said Brian D. Jaffe, IT director of a media company in New York and co-author, with Bill Holtsnider, of the book “The IT Manager’s Handbook,” the second edition of which is due in September.

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According to Jaffe and others, the next chapter for the IT worker could be promising. Here’s why:

• Outsourcing has a diminishing luster. Jaffe said the push to outsource is already abating. “A lot of people are looking at bringing stuff back in-house,” he said. “People are still looking at outsourcing, but the magic has worn off. It’s switching one headache for another one—managing the outsourcer.”

• IT workers will enjoy global demand for their services. While fear of being outsourced dominates, a global marketplace is emerging. That fact means workers could hang a shingle and become global players on their own. “The offshoring we’re seeing today is the first step in a longer-term process of creating a global marketplace,” said Thomas Malone, the Patrick J. McGovern professor of management at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., and author of the book “The Future of Work.”

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