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Shvetank Shah
Shvetank Shah
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4 Ways IT's Role Changing Faster Than Expected

Analysts at the Corporate Executive Board say you'd better update your five-year plan, because a series of radical shifts around IT's value, ownership, and role are happening sooner than envisioned.

Key actions for this year: You can't just lock down a business-unit leader who's gung-ho to implement a SaaS system. Instead, you need to engage that person, by talking about the risks and benefits of a project and being open to letting that leader manage it. IT can act as an intermediary between business leaders and vendors, acting like a buyer's agent. In that role, IT can make sure business leaders know the risks, but without taking over responsibility for their investments. Design alternative delivery tracks that let a business unit take primary responsibility for important local projects that central IT puts a lower priority on.

In terms of integration, focus on what data employees really need, in order to understand where integration with existing systems could have a big impact.

4. IT Gets Embedded In Business Services

Only 11% of large companies have what we call a "multifunctional shared services model"--joining HR, finance, procurement, IT, and other central functions under one roof. As companies look to cut costs, look for this to become more common for IT, especially in the retail, consumer packaged goods, and manufacturing sectors.

Part of this change will involve IT offering what we call "end-to-end IT service packages"-- putting together all the IT resources, technologies, and processes required to enable a specific business outcome. The model streamlines decision making within IT, and changes the conversation with the rest of the business from technologies to outcomes.

Fifty-four percent of large organizations will offer at least some end-to-end IT services by 2012, our research predicts. In contrast, in 2009 almost one-third of organizations had no services, and instead these IT groups followed the traditional model of defining their offerings in terms of infrastructure. A similar number offered services that were confined to applications or infrastructure, as opposed to the business outcome-aligned end-to-end services we expect to become more common.

The key point of chance here is that IT service management was once used just to improve IT infrastructure processes; now it's reshaping how the entire IT organization operates and the services it offers. End-to-end IT services package all the supporting people, processes, and technologies for a related set of business processes, user activities, or customer processes. That leads to faster, more streamlined decision making in IT and deeper business leader understanding of how technology enables the business.

Key actions for this year: Use end-to-end service packages to show business partners the full cost and value of the IT needed to make a specific business activity possible. The benefit is that the business units spend more wisely on IT. But don't expect that seeing the full costs will lead to lower demand for IT. The clarity of end-to-end IT services--having the costs and benefits laid out-- may even increase demand for IT. Some companies are exploring how the IT services model can serve as a blueprint for other shared services.

Are IT Pros Ready For This Future?

Most IT organizations are unaware and unprepared for the degree of change coming. Sixty-one percent haven't done a comprehensive forecast of the skills they'll need, and up to 80% don't provide training or coaching in critical skills. IT leaders must do annual workforce planning to spot skills gaps, target recruitment at new roles, and train emerging leaders.

If the IT organization of 2015 will look different, so will average IT employees. They are more likely to have skills related to project management, risk management, or usability design than in server administration or coding, and many will find themselves in roles that are unknown today, such as collaboration evangelist or service architect. Up to 30% of today's roles will move to a shared services group or to business units.

Shvetank Shah is executive director of the Corporate Executive Board. More from CEB is at

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User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2012 | 5:24:51 PM
re: 4 Ways IT's Role Changing Faster Than Expected
Excellent piece, Shvetank. Seems to me that many IT departments and IT managers/ CIOs have been caught out. The game is moving on - quickly. There are now real opportunities for business processes to be reengineered front to back - and for the technology elements to be architected and delivered by business people in conjunction with cloud providers. Without doubt the plumbing is going out - and those managing the plumbing must move out or change role. In many cases in the last few years there has been a shortage of investment in IT and in training/ development of IT personnel. Those who have kept up to date and embraced the new technologies and platforms have outstanding opportunities now.
Jason Sharp
Jason Sharp,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/18/2012 | 8:40:32 PM
re: 4 Ways IT's Role Changing Faster Than Expected
Nice overview, Shvetank. Your conclusions and suggestions are spot on, I believe--especially about the pace increasing, which will only seriously rob the IT shop even more time it needs to adapt easily or at all. Jonathon Feldman's recent article "IT Spending: Innovation Talk Vs. Survival Walk" illustrates how challenged IT is to adapt even if it had time.

Perhaps it is your sources, but the theme in your article seem focused on large enterprises. I think the mid-market and local government are in the same predicament and perhaps have even less assets/capability/flexibility to turn the corner.

These are interesting times, and a lot talent has and continues to leave this tough domain.
Multicloud Infrastructure & Application Management
Multicloud Infrastructure & Application Management
Enterprise cloud adoption has evolved to the point where hybrid public/private cloud designs and use of multiple providers is common. Who among us has mastered provisioning resources in different clouds; allocating the right resources to each application; assigning applications to the "best" cloud provider based on performance or reliability requirements.
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