"The reality is, IT departments are already evolving. In five years, they'll look more like miniature software companies, with staff dedicated to solving their customers' problems." -- Curt Jacobsen, principal, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Sean Jennings, co-founder and senior vice president at cloud-based enterprise software company Virtustream, sees new opportunities for IT staff, optimizing business applications for mobile workforces and making the most of company data.
"IT managers will help mine the vast troves of unstructured data that organizations have … resulting in increased collaboration with other departments," Jennings says. "In many cases, IT managers will be reporting to line-of-business executives and even up to the C-suite -- from the CTO to CIO to CFO and even CEO. We'll see an evolution in the skills required of IT, with increased emphasis on creative thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration."
GoodData's Stanek also sees IT staffs merging with other departments: "We're seeing completely new managers of IT departments now, which is very exciting. They might end up reporting to different areas in the line of business, based on their tech and cloud spending. So far, departments like marketing, finance, and operations have started to take some spend from the typical CIO role, so IT has moved across the organization."
Stanek sees this as a natural progression, freeing IT from typical "cost center" tasks.
"We're already seeing many ops tasks being taken over by cloud vendors, and this will continue to expand. So IT managers will be able to head up projects to improve their business -- not fix its technical flaws," Stanek says.
"The reality is, IT departments are already evolving," says PwC's Jacobsen. "In five years, they'll look more like miniature software companies, with staff dedicated to solving their customers' problems."
"IT will increasingly be tasked with building and supporting custom enterprise applications that take advantage of new capabilities in mobile and cloud computing." -- Vidhya Ranganathan, senior vice president, Accellio
Five years ago, IT departments were seen as a bottleneck, rigidly adhering to processes and inflexible tech that slowed down the business, argues Jacobson. Five years from now, they'll be more fluid, solving co-workers' problems with an architecture that's adaptable to changing requirements.
What stays in house?
If the cloud continues to quickly change the landscape, where does that leave in-house applications? In other words: What about a company's data that is too important for Dropbox?
"IT will increasingly be tasked with building and supporting custom enterprise applications that take advantage of new capabilities in mobile and cloud computing," says Vidhya Ranganathan, senior vice president at mobile enterprise software maker Accellio. "These in-house applications will be capable of accessing both pure and private cloud infrastructures, allowing companies to store sensitive information such as health care records or customer data without sacrificing the ability to access noncrucial applications in the cloud."
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