IT departments won't exist in five years

Generation gap between new technologists and old is widening, say experts at CITE conference

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Consumerization of IT and self-service trends will lead to a restructuring of the today's IT shop, leaving behind a hybrid model consisting of tech consultants and integrators.

"The business itself will be the IT department. [Technologists] will simply be the enabler," said Brandon Porco, chief technologist & solutions architect at Northrop Grumman.

Porco was part of a four-person panel of technologists who answered audience questions during a town hall-style meeting at the CITE Conference and Expo here this week.

Among concerns raised is whether IT is losing control as consumer technology becomes part and parcel of everyone's work in the enterprise, and the data center is left behind.

Others said they are not sure how to address a growing generation gap between young and veteran workers, each of whom are comfortable with different technologies.

"Interns coming in for the summer are asked if they're familiar with Google Apps. They say, 'Of course we are,'" said Nathan McBride, vice president of IT & chief cloud architect at AMAG Pharmaceuticals. "Then we have other employees coming in who worked for other companies who say, 'I need Outlook.' We have to say we don't use that anymore."

McBride said 75 Fortune 100 companies now use Google Apps along with most Ivy League schools, meaning that the next generation of workers won't be users of Microsoft Exchange or Office.

In five years, McBride said, companies will have to ensure they're matching their enabling technology to the demographic of that time.

Kathleen Schaub, vice president of research firm IDC's CMO Advisory Practice, said many corporate IT organizations now report to the head of the business unit it's assigned to.

"The premise is that wherever IT sits in an organization will dictate what they care about," she said. "If they're in finance, they'll care about cost cutting. If they're in operations, they'll care about process management. If [the company] decides it wants to focus on the customer, they'll put it in marketing."

While the CIO position will likely remain in an enterprise, his or her role will morph into a technology forecaster and strategist, rather than a technology implementer, according to Porco.

John Mancini, CEO of the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), agreed with Porco, saying that in the consumer technology era, it's the business side that has all the tools, so it will be able to trump IT's desire to control who uses what and how.

While the business can dictate the service or technology it wants, McBride said IT can still decide the flavor of technology.

For example, when AMAG business users asked for Microsoft's Visio tool set for diagraming and creating flow charts, McBride's team found a less expensive, web-based tool, LucidChart. "That was only $15 a seat," he said, adding that users were just as happy.

"We're not trying to be ahead of the technology curve and we don't' want to be behind, but we're trying to maintain pace in order to know what they're going to ask for next before they ask for it," McBride said.

Porco said he takes advantage of university partnerships and take cues from entrepreneurial centers throughout the U.S. such as Seattle and Denver to keep his finger on the pulse of tech innovation.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His email address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

Read more about consumerization of it in Computerworld's Consumerization of IT Topic Center.

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  • Efjay Writers are usually just writers many dont have a clue about the reality its just a subject to write about and whats more exciting than fads and trends
  • Efjay Im coming to join you Ill take a beach and fishing over the increasingly boring and bullshit laden world of IT
  • Efjay Tech media journalists really piss me off talk about following fads and trends This is absolute bollocks IT departments are going nowhere even if companies are running Gapps and truth be told Ive yet to experience ANY company that I work for using them they still need PCs or other hardware and software and an IT department to support them Even the companies that are jumping like lemmings into the so-called cloud lets see how many of them continue with that idea when they have a situation like a company I worked for recently faced the streets fibre optic being chewed up and not replaced for weeks if they were cloud based the company would have folded Secretary to boss Sorry sir I cannot get you that report its in the cloud We dont do local files anymore and Sorry sir I cannot type that letter for you my wordprocessor is cloud based and needs an internet connection to run Cloud computing isnt going to take over completely BYOD will not be the new paradigm at work in fact every company I work for forbids outside devices end of on-site servers are generally going nowhere except web servers and IT departments are staying put As per usual the so-called media is trying to talk thick-as-shite managers into making their staff redundant trying to chase some cost cutting fantasy dream that doesnt exist
  • Carl Smith No typo allot IS a word go and look in the Oxford Dictionaries also look at the meaning I know education in Britain is poor to say the least but at least look in a dictionary before making such constructive and educated comments
  • Richard Spurr IT will always be needed to sort out problems understand how the business data is maintained and guide users to use the right software tools for the job There are millions of secretaries using Word as a spreadsheetdatabase and accountants using hundreds of spreadsheets when they should be storing their data in databases and using querydynamic links to just do the end model analysis in the spreadsheet
  • Neil Rose As most comments have suggested this is nonsense and misses most of the key trends right now Many corporations are still getting their heads around remote working let alone dis-aggregation on the scale suggested here There is no doubt the Business will be increasingly empowered to design and build exactly what they want and more importantly what their customers demand The need for IT to manage increasingly disparate and critical systems will grow the importance of IT in every organisation not diminish it Boards will have to comprise more people who are IT savvy as businesses must deploy technology that allows them to organise around their CUSTOMERs Just one example Banks and Insurance companies remain mostly account and policy centric You only exist as an account or policy NOT as a customer The changes required are enormous and transcend anything suggested in this superficial piece of reportage
  • Tuyre I remember when I was a child The oil was going to run out before I reached 20 The TV series Space 1999 was seen as an accurate depiction of how wed be travelling around in space in 1999 This article reminds me of many such predictions No more IT departments LOL funniest one yet You tell our end-users to stop asking us for help I dont think so Were asked for even more help even with the existence of Office 365 and Google Business Apps It doesnt replace other technologies it just compliments them and adds more work for us IT staff to configure manage and support along with all the usual stuff we do Its like idiots in the media saying tablets will replace PCs and laptops their existence gives users an added option but does not replace the need for PCs Introducing tablets amp smarts phones to end-users in a business gives IT staff more work not less since they still need PCs too Same with cloud services
  • Guest This article is just waffle Not really saying anything Selling Google apps and ignoring the existence of Office 365 Doesnt the writer realise that the MS Office suite has gone into the cloud too Also with Google Business Apps amp Office 365 Business users still use Outlook to read mail share contactscalendars with colleagues etc because it integrates well with both its still preferable than just sticking with reading on a browser the browser just adds an extra dimension of using it on a remote PC too Outlook is far from dead same as the rest of the Office suite Someone needs to educate the writer By the way I work in IT Managed Services and our business is expanding quickly to enable small to medium business users work in the cloud and manage their hardware and internal infrastructure IT gurus will always have work and the more people move into the cloud the more work there will be not less because the hardware they work on still exists The amount of times Ive remoted into customers PCs today beggars beyond belief more tickets logged per hour than when I was working in a major IT department before this job Bring it on ignore than so called tech evangelists that write this type of tripe The networks issues we deal with increase because of the number of lansnodes connected to the Internet they dont decrease Number of hardware increases more devices to configure etc More people working on devices more issues security is not a major problem were dealing with so much more work hardening server Cisco routers etc etc etc I could go on
  • Alex Phillips I rely on IT now more than I did 5 years ago In another five we will not be able to function without someone fixing ll the additional junk we are being fed A Nokia phone never needed to be fixed from the day you bought it until it fell asleep in a draw Three years later My samsung is out of date within a month of contract begining and anything apple is not supported after the first year by anyone
  • Ted Exley You will all be OK when the current Older Generation the ones who beat Hitler and the Japs have died out Then you can IT yourselfs to deathI once heard an eminent scientist saying that they will soon be able to make a Brain what utter rubbish It will only be able to do sums and recall what is put into it Not think like we can
  • securedgold lol this article is a big advert for Google AppsMaking it sound like it will replace Office at the enterprise level Yeah right Never heard such garbage in my life
  • Mark Page I agree our IT department Mike is invaluable
  • Mark Page who is putting business critical data on the cloud they need their heads examining if they are doing so in fact they might as well phone up their competition and tell them directly their marketing strategynew productsRampDrevenues for all the security the cloud offers
  • Abo I cannot see government organisations and therefore companies who contract to those organisations wanting to use cloud-based solutions theyll want to keep their data in-house
  • stevealbury well allot IS a word as in share out a portion of something - its a typo - and the least of the errors in the comment
  • Ben Ayling A lot of traditional IT functions now take far less people resource to be accomplished file amp print client server etc and cloud computing is not the only reason for this But the IT Department encompasses far more than it used to It has to manage so much more Smart phones BYODs and just a massive range of brands and types of equipment all sit within the remit of the IT Dept Not forgetting of course comples wireless infrastructures that require a lot of managing And users arent that smart They come to the IT Dept on where to go to get to the cloud what cloud resources to use and essentially using the cloud is a service IT Departments always have to offer IT Depts are just turning into different animals
  • pedant Do you actually believe that allot is a word
  • ArthurSparknottle LOL - try running supply chain management for Rolls Royce or for Cadbury on Google Apps Cadbury have hundreds of drinks and confectionery businesses all over Europe and Rolls Royce turnover 125bn a year building aero engines and power generators and support with spares aircraft and other engines going back as far as the Merlin engines used seventy years ago in WW2 The supply inventory and manufacturing management issues in such enterprises are extremely complex Your remarks are only true for simple office type applications on a small scale Complex businesses require very complex bespoke solutions
  • ArthurSparknottle Business IT is far more complex than consumer IT The need for tech support to solve simple user problems may well be less but large businesses which run their supply chain management and personnel and accounts management can not operate without specialist companies to tailor software such as SAP to manage these matters across multi-nationals I have a son who works as a technology consultant dealing with large companies many of whom have turnovers in the region of 12bn to much more These can have dozens or even hundreds of manufacturing sites across the planet and often seek homogeneous IT solutions such as SAP to make large efficiency savings The idea that people who play around with IPhones and tablet computers can deal with such matters is risible Did we touch on the IT systems that underlie our banking systems No - but the answer in relation to them is obvious
  • Tony101 IT departments will exist There will always be IT depts to deploy maintain provide first level support for all manners of devices amp software
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