A colleague of mine postulated that the IT department would eventually go the way of the dinosaur. He put forward that as Everything-as-a-Service model becomes the norm, IT would no longer provide meaningful value to the business. My flippant response was to point out that they have been saying that mainframes are dead for decades.
This of course doesn’t get to the heart of the conversation. What is the future role of IT as we move towards the use of Everything-as-a-Service? Will marketing, customer services, finance and other departments continue to look to IT for their application deployment? Will developers and engineers move to containerization to build and release code, turning to a DevOps model where the Ops are simply a cloud provider?
We’ve already proven that consumers can adapt to very complex applications. Every day when you deploy and use an application on your phone, you are operating at a level of complexity that once required IT assistance. And yes, the development of intuitive UXs has enabled this trend, however the same principal is occurring at the enterprise level. Cloud, in many ways, has already brought this simplification forward. It has democratized IT.
So, what is the future of IT? What significant disruptions to operations processes will occur through democratization? I liken it to the evolution of eSports (Madden NFL). You don’t manage each player on the field. You choose the skill players for the team, then run the plays. The only true decision you make is which offensive play to run, or which defensive scheme to set. In IT terms, you review the field (operations), orchestrate the movement of resources, and ensure the continuation of the applications looking for any potential issues and resolving them before they become an issue. This is the future of IT.
What are the implications? I believe IT evolves into a higher order (read more business value) function. They enable digital transformation, not from a resource perspective, but from a strategic business empowerment perspective. They get out of the job that keeps them from being strategic, the tactical day to day of managing resources, to enabling and implementing business strategy. However, that takes a willingness to specifically allocate how IT is contributing to the business value output/increase at some very granular levels. To achieve this, it might require reengineering teams, architectures, and budgets to tightly link specific IT contributions to specific business outputs. The movement to modern cloud technology supports this fundamental shift, and over time, will soon start to solve chronic problems of underfunding or lack of support for ongoing improvement. IT is not going the way of the dinosaur. They’re becoming the fuel that enables business to grow strategically.
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-Michael Elliott, Sr Director of Product Marketing