Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
3/6/2014
09:06 AM
Charles Araujo
Charles Araujo
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Do You Have A Future In IT?

During the next five to 10 years, 80% of current enterprise IT job functions will cease to exist. Yet, I'm optimistic.

7 Super Certifications For IT Pros
7 Super Certifications For IT Pros
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Imagine that your boss calls you and nine of your co-workers into his office. After lining the 10 of you up against the wall like you're facing a firing squad, he points to two of you and says: "You two made the cut. The rest of you are through here."

Which group were you in?

More than two years ago, I began studying and contemplating what the future would hold for IT professionals. In my book, The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know about IT Is About to Change, I laid out that vision and have continued to develop it in the year since its release. I have come to believe that within the next five to 10 years, fully 80% of what the average IT organization does today will no longer be done within the walls of the enterprise. That means that for 80% of you, your job -- at least as it stands today -- will not exist in the IT organization of the future.

So which group were you in?

There's a pretty good chance that you have no idea. Of course, you'd like to think that you're so invaluable to your organization that you'd survive. But you also know that your organization has a lot of talented people.

[Women are in a unique position to enhance and strengthen IT. Read Female IT Leadership: Find Your Voice.]

Talent won't be enough. The reason for the uncertainty and doubt that you're feeling is that you're not confident about which 20% will survive. So how can you know if it will include you?

Here's the next surprise: I don't know either. And there's a pretty good chance that neither does your boss. The 20% is going to be different for every organization because it's going to be driven by the 20% of the technology investment stack that provides some kind of differentiating value to each organization. If it doesn't provide real competitive differentiation, the odds that your organization will continue to operate it in-house are slim to none.

The future of IT
Just to be clear, I don't think we're going to see 80% staff reductions in IT. That may occur in some circles, but for the most part technology is becoming more critical, not less.

I expect that the IT footprint will continue to expand in most organizations. But over the next five to 10 years, 80% of current IT job functions will cease to exist within the walls of the enterprise. As an IT pro, your options will be simple:

1. Become one of the best 20% in a technology domain that provides strategic differentiation to your organization.

2. Be prepared to compete for a job at a technology company such as Amazon.com, Google, or Salesforce.com.

3. Retool your skills to remain relevant in the IT organization of the near future.

The purpose of this column will be to serve as a roadmap to the future for those of you who selected Door No. 3. You will need to begin by understanding what that future will look like. What will be required of pros in this future IT organization? How will the IT organization be organized? Will it even exist the way it does today?

And once you understand what the future will look like, then you must understand what you must look like to remain relevant in that organization. Which skills will you need? Which types of business acumen? That's what I will help you understand in this column. I will break down some of the key concepts from my book (what are the market forces driving the upheaval in our industry, which organizational traits will prevail, etc.) and then help you examine them on a personal level.

I'm a big believer in you, the IT pro. We are some of the smartest, most dedicated, most well-rounded people I know. We have a lot to add to our organizations. In fact, I believe that we're in the middle of one of the most exciting times our industry has ever seen. And I want to help you seize this moment.

But before I leave you, there's a question you should be asking yourself: "Why does this guy think he knows what the future of IT will look like?" I don't. None of us knows. But we're seeing glimpses of the future right now. Big changes are already happening. So while I don't claim clairvoyance, I'm confident that whatever the future holds, it won't look anything like today.

So whether I'm right or wrong, you had better be prepared for a very different future.

Together, we will explore and try to understand the various possibilities. More important, we will try to make sense of the future on a very personal level so that you will be prepared to help lead us all into it.

So which group will you be in?

Engage with Oracle president Mark Hurd, NFL CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle, General Motors CIO Randy Mott, Box founder Aaron Levie, UPMC CIO Dan Drawbaugh, GE Power CIO Jim Fowler, and other leaders of the Digital Business movement at the InformationWeek Conference and Elite 100 Awards Ceremony, to be held in conjunction with Interop in Las Vegas, March 31 to April 1, 2014. See the full agenda here.

Charles Araujo, Founder and CEO of the IT Transformation Institute, is a recovering consultant and accidental author of the book The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT Is About to Change. He is an internationally recognized ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
BruceHarpham
50%
50%
BruceHarpham,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/22/2014 | 2:57:12 PM
Role for Project Management
Charles,

Creative destruction is an ongoing reality. Economist Tyler Cowen makes the point in great detail in his book "Average is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation."

I see a continuing and growing role for project management and change management staff. Are you seeing that trend as well?
charlesaraujo01
100%
0%
charlesaraujo01,
User Rank: Strategist
3/6/2014 | 11:42:16 PM
Re: Dazed and confused
Hi Petey -

Thanks for your comment.  The audience for this column is anyone who works in an enterprise IT organization.  Young or old, male or female, whatever ethnicity - we are all in the same boat.  The fundamental operating model of the IT organization is changing and it will require that as IT professionals, we change with it.  

The mention of Amazon, Google, etc. (which do generally tend to employ younger staff) was simply made to point out that if you intend on being a pure technologist in the future, that you had better be prepared to compete for jobs at those kinds of companies (and against the younger applicants they attract) because those roles will be significantly diminished in the IT organization of the near future.

Although I should also point out that, ironically, even the internal IT organizations at companies like Google, Apple and Facebook are coming under similar pressure.  The fundamental model is shifting and no one will be spared.  So the question - and the point of my column - is what each of us are doing to adapt and prepare for this future.  No matter your station or stage in life, if you work in Enterprise IT, it is a question you must be prepared to ask and answer.

Charlie
petey
100%
0%
petey,
User Rank: Strategist
3/6/2014 | 9:34:19 AM
Dazed and confused
I'm confused about the audience for this type of article. It mentions amazon, google etc which by my calculations have a business history of maybe 15 yrs which is an entirely different organization than say General Electric or perhaps an insurance company etc. Sometimes it's better to clarify the audience because I don't think general assumptions apply. For example my guess is that internet company staffs are much younger than more mature industries and even among these industries there are huge staff differences. The article appears to be targeted towards older IT workers but I'm not really sure. IT covers such a wide spectrum of services I'm not even sure the premise applies.
The Business of Going Digital
The Business of Going Digital
Digital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Must Reads Oct. 21, 2014
InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of digital strategy. Learn why you should learn to embrace DevOps, how to avoid roadblocks for digital projects, what the five steps to API management are, and more.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
A roundup of the top stories and community news at InformationWeek.com.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.