The traditional IT organization is disintegrating but will re-emerge as the domain-smart and customer-focused manager of an IT ecosystem.
By Rajiv Sodhi
One of the biggest threats to corporate competitiveness is a shortage of key skills, and nowhere is that risk more acute than in the corporate IT organization. By 2015, less than 25 percent of the current IT workforce is estimated to remain in standalone IT roles, according to analysis by the Corporate Executive Board. And top tech talent will migrate to the best opportunities, more likely working for a technology-centric organization than for an enterprise IT organization.
As a result, we will soon witness the beginning of the end of the IT organization as we know it, but not the end of the modern enterprise’s IT demands. Businesses will need more highly skilled technical talent in the future than ever before, as corporate systems grow even more complex and critical. Consumption of data—structured and unstructured, internal and publicly available—will increase. Real-time and actionable analysis of that data will become a business requirement. And employees will demand access from anywhere on any device. Meanwhile, IT organizations once built on the foundation of servers, mainframe computers, software and human resources will reduce their dependence on all classes of technology assets.
The skills of the average corporate IT professional are already becoming redundant or obsolete. We are about to see the IT organization morph into a business operations group dominated by intimate domain knowledge, internal customer management and business change. As a result, the internal IT organization of the future will forge relationships with a consortium of suppliers that have the talent and assets it no longer possesses in-house.
These new relationships will be more symbiotic and strategic than the term outsourcing implies, requiring a master supplier to ensure alignment and agility. That will spur the remaking of IT service providers themselves. Those who fail to adapt will be out of work. And customers who fail to change will fall behind their business rivals.
To get an idea of how this transformation will affect businesses, just take a look at a successful software company: It is asset light with little inventory. It is agile—and prepared to change tools or processes rapidly. It operates as every successful business soon will—as part of a well-oiled digital ecosystem.
Ultimately, this new model will be welcomed by traditional enterprise IT organizations currently struggling to meet the demands for cloud computing, analytics, mobility and social media. IT can let go of the old way of doing business—being responsible for everything end-to-end—and embrace this new digital ecosystem of strategic partners, increased agility and lower costs. The business will dream up its vision, IT will offer technology options in support of that vision and a team of vendors will effectively deliver it. The relationship will evolve from partnership to co-creation to co-innovation.
This transformation will not happen tomorrow, but we’re now seeing the signs of it. Businesses that are early adopters will reap the benefits. The others, which idly wait and see, will miss out on them.