Wither the information technology department? There’s been no end to speculation as of late, as employees bring their own devices to work, marketing chiefs grab more technology budget dollars, and everyone signs up and tends to their own cloud realms. Gartner, the analyst firm created by and for technology professionals, has been predicting that IT departments will be dissolved and dispersed into the business units they serve.
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IT leaders recognize that the cloud parade has started without them, and that they have been sidelined to some degree. In a recent survey, a majority of those in enterprises adopting cloud, 61 percent, say business units are choosing, managing and funding their own cloud solutions. In the survey of 133 CIOs, conducted and released by 2nd Watch, only 37 percent of IT leaders estimate that they are delivering the bulk of cloud services sought by business users.
IT leaders may feel they have fallen behind in the cloud revolution, but they are not willing to let things go without a fight. If anything, CIOs are accelerating efforts to evolve their departments from creators and managers of solutions to brokerage roles, in which they expertly identify and supply technology to internal customers. In the survey, 43 percent of IT leaders say they are planning to develop cloud services brokerage models in their quest to get out in front if the cloud parade and deliver the majority of the cloud services their companies use within the next two years.
However, with the cloud genie out of the bottle, how does IT propose to re-cork it? IT leaders won’t get anywhere by attempting to set up rules, procedures and restrictions on cloud usage — that would be the equivalent of attempting to stop a moving train by standing on the tracks and frantically waving one’s arms. And attempting to compete directly with outside cloud providers will only reduce IT’s stature to commodity service. Plus, many IT departments are constrained from rolling out more cloud solutions by budgets — this was the leading constraint noted in the 2nd Watch survey. Rather, CIOs and IT managers need to get out of the way, but be ready to support and advise the business as cloud issues spring up — and they will. And guess who users will be calling first for help?
But on a larger scale, businesses need IT expertise more than ever to advance in today’s crazy, hyper-competitive economy. Everyone is scrambling to get ahead of competitors with greater innovation, more access to big data-driven insights, and closer connections to customers. Only the judicious and adroit use of technology will deliver such advantages. What is happening is there are companies buying and dropping solutions — both cloud-based and on-premises — into their organizations, expecting enhanced profitability and enlightenment overnight. To make these technologies deliver as promised — again, it doesn’t matter if they’re cloud or on-premises — takes planning, enterprise architecture, guidance, security, security, security, and lots of hand-holding. Many companies have evolved into technology businesses overnight, and IT departments are needed more than ever.
There is a sizeable segment of organizations that do recognize the importance of this role. A recent survey by CIO.com, for example, finds “one quarter of 722 CIOs surveyed report that the IT group is perceived by colleagues as a true business peer–or even a game-changer–that can create and launch new products and open new markets.”