Will the last business IT services please turn off the lights?

IT departments have potentially lost control of business technology, but will the next wave of shadow IT force them to shut up shop altogether?

The emergence of cloud computing and Bring Your Own Device means the IT department no longer holds total mastery over the technology estate.   Business professionals and department heads can now choose to source and support their own hardware and enterprise software, and effectively build their own business IT services. If that wasn’t bad enough, now the very fabric of the IT department is under threat.

Platform as a Service is the next wave of shadow IT which means even the core business IT infrastructure can be managed beyond the walls of the business.  Think about the enormity of that for a second: if the devices, the software, and then the IT infrastructure used by the business are run outside of the IT department, does the department need to be there at all?

Fortunately, just because the potential exists to run all these crucial elements outside the jurisdiction of the IT department doesn’t mean businesses will necessarily want to take such an extreme approach.  Many organisations burnt by the promise of outsourcing IT have learnt that the cost-savings and convenience are often outweighed by the poor service and responsiveness, leading them to bring the functions back in-house.  This has helped developed a collective understanding of how important it is to retain an internal IT function.

So in answer to the question, shadow IT is NOT the end of the IT department.  It does, however, mean business leaders can be choosy and seriously undermine the value of the IT department that doesn’t support its strategic aims.  Remember, most department heads don’t want to be IT people.  They feel compelled to seek alternatives not because of a burning desire to tinker with technology, but because they are frustrated by the inability – or unwillingness – of their own IT departments to help them solve their challenges.

Business IT services exist for one reason: helping the business work more effectively.  IT departments are under threat and must start learning what department heads need from technology, and find ways to deliver on these needs.  If they don’t, the lights will start turning off very quickly.

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Simon Kent
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