As technology continues to extend into every facet of the business, it is time we reviewed the concept of the IT department altogether.
This Harvard Business Review article makes some very compelling points about the nature of IT. Firstly, it points out that the IT department is no longer a “gate-keeper” and is now collaborating with the business to develop technology to “drive enterprise outcomes”. It also asserts that marketing is becoming a far more technology-orientated department which has only just begun exploring the potential of technology to help it perform more effectively.
While we agree with these ideas, we think it’s important to go beyond even this bold thinking. Yes, marketing is becoming more technology-orientated, but can you find a department that isn’t?
IT impacts every area of the business and as solutions and innovations are developed, this statement will become even more profound. So much so that arguably, all departments are now technology departments.
We have already identified that the IT department will increasingly be supplemented and managed by Business Relationship Managers who rather than working directly for the IT department will instead sit one step removed to ensure that technology projects are in the best interests of the business, rather than any single department.
With BRMs effectively pulling the strings and managing technical specialists who were previously autonomous, and the IT professionals themselves spanning the business by working for the department affected by the project, there will be very little remaining that we will recognise as an IT department.
Certainly we will always have people within the business who are more technically-minded and we will continue to see a core group of individuals providing elements such as IT support and network management that will retain a familiar look. But with IT expertise increasingly dispersed across the business where it is needed, and more specialisation at departmental level to ensure that disciplines such as marketing, customer service and fulfilment are effectively served by technology, the department will be hardly recognisable in future.
Is this radical? Yes.
Is this important for the development of business IT? Absolutely.
Technology is simply too important and fundamental to the success of businesses to remain an isolated entity. Digital transformation is about making every stakeholder involved and accountable to business technology and an inevitable consequence of this is that we simply won’t need an IT department – certainly not in its current form.