The IT department will need to be equipped with teaching skills if they want to be of value to businesses of the future, according to Forrester.
Speaking to Computerworld UK ahead of Forrester’s Enterprise Architecture (EA) Forum EMEA 2011, EA research director Alex Cullen said that as businesses strive for greater speed and agility, and technology becomes easier for the business to procure, IT will no longer be the first point of call.
“Business people will be able to take advantage of cloud services without involving IT. They will need people to help them think about how to do it,” he said.
This is where IT staff can demonstrate their value to the business.
“IT will teach business to procure in a reliable, scalable and secure way. Organisations will probably want staff based on their ability to teach,” said Cullen.
“It’s a big shift because people will think about the business first, and the technology second.”
Cullen also believes that the IT department will become smaller, and while they will stay technical, their skills will be more focused on integration and sourcing capabilities.
“Change won’t happen in the legacy applications – they will happen around them. IT will have to integrate those things, but they won’t be the sole technology source,” he said.
A key message from the Forrester Forum will be that the role of the enterprise architect in a decade’s time will split in half, with one part remaining in IT in the way that is described above, and the other part moving into the business.
Cullen said this could lead to the creation of a new business role, such as head of planning and innovation.
He added: “The technology architecture will stay in IT and the business aspects of applications and information will move into the business.”
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I see this in two ways; Consultants to the business, or ‘Teachers’ both work in their own capacity. There was a time when Technologists held the golden key to the inner workings of technology. With the commercialization of technology, more and more people are becoming quite knowledgeable about the basics behind how technology works. It is almost an evolutionary thrust in which old-school technologists are fighting that shift from being the ones in the “know” to having to relinquish power and admit that they are not the single point for all that it IT. With a support background the choice is clear… teach or deal with the ramifications of unsupervised exploration, which more often than not breaks things.
I liken it to teaching someone to drive vs. having them take the keys for the first time and going for a spin. In the latter the odds of your premiums going up are pretty high.
On the other hand, as Consultants, you are able to leverage your knowledge and experience of technology to fully grasp and align technology solutions to business strategy. That is where the true value add is. Much effort is often used to shoe-horn technology solutions in place to deliver on a business strategy which has not had much exposure to newer technology solutions. For the technologist to reverse that trend by understanding the business vision/strategy then formulating a solution to deliver with a focus on stability, scalability and cost avoidance is something that is extremely valuable and rarely exercised in most organizations.
IT needs to stop viewing itself as simply a cost center and more as a true partner to business solutions. That comes in many ways, ‘Teaching’ and ‘Consulting’ are just the beginning.