IT: The Next Chapter

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2006-08-14 Print this article Print

Optimism and opportunism supplant gloom and doom in forecasting the future of IT.

The IT manager isn't going extinct.

Despite boom and bust cycles and ever-susceptibility to being a corporate whipping boy, technology remains essential to successful enterprises large and small, say technology executives. Sure, there are concerns about outsourcing, and new expectations and requirements, but some unexpected opportunities are emerging.

It has been a long road. The dot-com boom of 1999 and 2000 inflated IT expectations to the point where an implosion was inevitable. The bust gave rise to bloated budgets and a backlash against technology. Outsourcing further eroded the notion of technology as strategic. Now things are turning up courtesy of the need to replace aging technology investments, mandates by regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and companies that believe IT can yield competitive advantage.

"Respect was earned during the lean years. Lessons were learned. The IT guy worked more closely with business and regained the trust of business managers. Now people expect and demand a greater return on investment. Companies recognize they can't live without IT," said Brian D. Jaffe, IT director of a media company in New York and co-author, with Bill Holtsnider, of the book "The IT Manager's Handbook," the second edition of which is due in September.

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According to Jaffe and others, the next chapter for the IT worker could be promising. Here's why:

• Outsourcing has a diminishing luster. Jaffe said the push to outsource is already abating. "A lot of people are looking at bringing stuff back in-house," he said. "People are still looking at outsourcing, but the magic has worn off. It's switching one headache for another one—managing the outsourcer."

• IT workers will enjoy global demand for their services. While fear of being outsourced dominates, a global marketplace is emerging. That fact means workers could hang a shingle and become global players on their own. "The offshoring we're seeing today is the first step in a longer-term process of creating a global marketplace," said Thomas Malone, the Patrick J. McGovern professor of management at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., and author of the book "The Future of Work."

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: IT: The Next Chapter

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on Zcast.tv. He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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