I just read an article about IT departments and how they must evolve and change (Forester: IT Departments Face Decade of Fundamental Change) and wanted to call someone at Forester afterwards and say 'Duh'. It's funny, but in the world of IT Services and Consulting, we have long taken the stance that IT must take on a role as a broker of information, services and strategy, and that the business itself must take the front seat, not the technology.
Forester correctly noted that 'a number of IT roles will become more managerial, more of a broker role' and 'its moving from building to consulting'. You see, IT has long understood their role in implementations, but has, in traditional corporate atmospheres often taken this to the point of the implementation and the technology itself becoming the central theme, and the driving force. There is a bit of 'because you need it, and I can control it, I will tell you how to use it' that can occur.
Of course all of the implementations and the maintenance still have to happen, but, what we understand in the world of consulting, which perhaps internal IT is just coming to terms with, is that the complexity of decisions and the criticality of having IT systems that enhance your business and its productivity (happy, productive and supported sound familiar?) IS the core role of IT, and that is a very consultative science, very service oriented. Technical capabilities are table stakes, sure, but the win is in technical leadership combined with business savvy to enable business momentum and operational effectiveness. Users need to not just be told 'yes' or 'no' but be educated as to the costs and benefits of the many choices today (cloud computing as an example) so that they can make good decisions. Then you HAVE to be able to execute those decisions flawlessly.
At the end of the day, that is something that I think the outsourcing guys get, and have understood for a long time. Frankly, the fact that the message is going mainstream to corporate IT is a good thing. As the need to be more consultative and more broad in skills and flexible in execution becomes mainstream, 'ride along' outsourcing becomes a very viable option for larger corporate entities to fill in their technology needs (strategic and tactical). After all, outsourcing is not about 'replacing' but about finding the right solution to provide flexible, cost effective, and sustainable services. The concept that internal IT managers may have to develop strong relations WITH outsourcers to provide this to their organizations is a win/win.
As much as I love the messageÂ… I have to still think 'duh'. The concept of IT as a service organization and information and service broker rather than power center. Who'd have thought it.
Here's hoping the future holds plenty of Happy Computing!