While the concept of the “cloud” or utility computing has been out there for a while, it was only around 2008 that there was a lot of commercial viability and interest in cloud offerings. With the emergence of SaaS based platforms and services, the question was asked “what is the future of IT departments?”

Responses and opinions varied across the spectrum – with the key options being:

  1. IT departments will become irrelevant – business will move to SaaS
  2. IT departments will become more like Systems Integrators – with their main function to integrate with “best of breed” SaaS providers
  3. IT departments will have no impact – the cloud is a mere passing fad. After all, IT has been around for a while, and will continue to do so

Five years later, reality – as is usually the case, is turning out to be (d.) all of the above. IT departments are alive and kicking – and are making decisions in partnership with business whether to “build” or “buy”.

However, as if this was not enough, another thing has happened along the way. Let’s call this the “app-ification” of the world. You name a thing – and there is an app for that. When we talk about creative destruction – or the ultimate kind of crowd sourcing – this comes to top of mind for me.

This consumerization has led to even shorter lead times, lifecycles and increasingly flexibility and agility from the customers, members and end-users. For IT, these are big challenges. If you are a “typical” IT shop – you are dealing with a wide array of legacy systems, and investments lagging the needs for your IT division.

Here’s a fundamental issue that I have seen; and continue to see with my friends and peers across IT in a number of industries. We talk about methodologies (agile, iterative, waterfall) and little about outcomes. We talk with a project based mind-set and not a product based mindset. We talk with an efficient process perspective – and not an immersive end user experience perspective.

In my opinion, the biggest skill that IT departments NEED to acquire is time to market. How do we build fast enough? How do we integrate fast enough? How do we create a competitive advantage for our business?

I think we are at yet another cross-road. In industry after industry – the ability to deliver far exceeds the capacity and the capability for a vast majority of IT departments. So here’s my question to you. In five years from now, do you see:

  1. IT departments will become irrelevant
  2. IT departments will become more like product companies – with their main focus on immersive experience vs. process excellence.
  3.  IT departments will have no impact – this is a mere passing fad. After all, IT has been around for a while, and will continue to do so

Discussions and debate welcome!

Advertisements