Is It Time to Drop the "I" in IT?By Samuel Greengard Print
IT departments aren't going away—regardless of what they are called. But they must become more strategic and savvy in the ways of all technologies and business.
As the digital age unfolds, it's increasingly clear that the concept of IT—and what the enterprise IT department oversees—is changing. Although information is at the center of everything, there's a need for business and IT leaders to step back and take a much broader view of technology.
Thanks to the cloud and everything-as-a-service, IT departments are no longer required to focus primarily on keeping the lights on and the power running. That alone isn't a bulletin. Neither is the fact that IT must strategically align with the business.
Digital technology magnifies the potential for gains and losses. Organizations that fully harness technology slingshot ahead, while those that lag in adopting digital technologies sputter behind.
A new study from Forrester and Alfresco Software, "Break Down Content and Information Silos to Accelerate the Flow of Work," offers some insight. It found that digital transformation is a high priority for 70 percent of organizations, but 50 percent of them are falling behind in these efforts.
To be sure, migrating to a digital framework is incredibly complex. It takes more than computers, clouds and mobile technologies to move beyond basic cost savings and productivity gains, and to realize innovation and disruption.
Drones, wearables, the IoT, 3D and 4D printing, robots, artificial intelligence and myriad other emerging, maturing and hyped technologies are now critical elements. These systems introduce opportunities that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago.
A recent Wall Street Journal blog post by Gary J. Beach, author of The U.S. Technology Skills Gap, argues that business and tech leaders must now focus on a mélange of issues: technology factors, market factors, people skills, regulatory concerns, macro-economic factors and socio-economic factors. In 2006, he notes, technology factors ranked sixth. By 2015, it had emerged as the most important factor.
The bottom line? "The logical path for survival," Beach writes, "is to shed the 'I' and become the technology department, a development that I see happening already." In fact, one of the interesting things taking place is that business and IT executives increasingly view their enterprise as a technology company—one that just happens to sell shoes, produce food or fly airplanes.
Make no mistake, IT is evolving, and it will continue to evolve. But IT departments aren't going away—regardless of what they are called. But they must become much more strategic and savvy in the ways of all technologies and business.
IT leaders must learn how to integrate mind-bending combinations of tools, solutions and technologies. In the end, this will determine who thrives, who survives and who fades away.
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