Technology has played a part in every successful company over the last two decades. It has transformed the way the world can work, through communication links, data transfer and simple software taking on complex tasks. Today, technology doesn’t have to be so dependant on your own resources – the ‘cloud’ and 3rd party applications come with their own setup and support. Individuals have a comparatively gleaming IT understanding – those who are beginning their careers have been immersed in IT as far back as they can remember, but what does this mean for the IT industry?
Since computers were first introduced into the majority of personal and business users’ lives, there has been a huge change – operating systems have evolved, software has become more professional, hardware has become more reliable and network links have become faster. During all of this has been several large leaps in must-have technology. Networks have been very much an internal resource, and so large changes have been undertaken every two-three years. This itself carries a requirement for internal IT departments. It’s one thing setting up a network, but it’s a different story having to manage and administer it.
On-going support has also been necessary. The era where the majority of employees grew up, at very best, using punched cards to write documents, has nearly surpassed us – 80-90% of employees now are capable of using a computer to such a degree that it increases their work throughput. For the remaining 10-20%, there are co-workers or internal support teams still available – but this percentage will decrease year on year, reducing the number of support staff needed internally.
Software has evolved too – more software is web-based, keeping up with the trends of more widely available internet access. It also means people can access systems from ‘almost’ anywhere – and since we are all liable to travelling now or trying to find more convenient and flexible working arrangements, web-based software (software as a service, or Saas) is crucial to keep up with the trends of modern-day employers and allowing employees to work wherever they are, at whatever time suits them. This in turn means that companies are seeing a rise in productivity.
IT Managers and CIOs are seeing their job roles evolve – IT Managers are seeing less and less hardcore IT aspects to their job and more and more business analysis. Business Analysts build a bridge between stakeholders and a specific discipline. In this instance, making well-judged decisions about how the company should use IT to its advantage, and which specific products or services to employ. With the ongoing involvement of Cloud into every company’s IT infrastructure, it’s hardly surprising to see a drop in demand of internal servers and other meaty hardware, thus reducing the requirement to manage the staff who operate them. Most companies use a cloud environment for something nowadays, without even realizing it. We’ll talk about what the cloud is, in an article soon.
The market is flooded with software and network solutions now, so why reinvent the wheel internally. It’s very rare to come across an organisation so operationally different that there is no back-office software available to meet their requirements. Software is designed with users and businesses in mind, and after 1000s of man days by vendors, researching the ‘perfect’ service for a given business area, analysts have to ask themselves the ‘is it me or them’ question if they really struggle to find what they’re looking for. Most of the time where people struggle to find suitable software, is because their business processes are very over-engineered and companies can actually learn from software, which attempts to steer them in a more efficient direction.
Businesses are more likely to have IT business analysts and operational staff who will work together to identify requirements and processes, and provide a recommended solution to the stakeholders.
Of course, this is very simplified – there are lots of other areas that IT Managers and CIOs will cover, depending on the organisation size – budgeting, SEO, new media marketing, supervision of existing IT staff, identifying and managing performance indicators to name but a few…
Fundamentally however, gone will be the days of internal IT departments slaving over server migrations and working against the clock during scheduled (or worse, unscheduled) downtime for essential maintenance and gone are the days of countless hours of internal training of IT staff – this will all be managed by 3rd party vendors. It makes sense after all – we’re so dependant on IT now, that we’d all have to put so many expensive resilience and contingency measures in place, why not share the burden with other companies looking to do exactly the same thing?