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Warning -- your IT shop needs a makeover

Margie Semilof
Emerging disruptive trends in enterprise computing promise to upend the way in which companies staff and manage their IT departments.

So, if corporate IT executives don't start to rethink their roles and figure out how to address these trends, it could render current IT staff ineffective -- or worse, irrelevant -- said research from Gartner Inc., the Stamford, Conn.-based consulting firm. IT jobs need to change and the way corporations approach the management of IT needs to change too, said Debra Logan, a Gartner analyst.

Most of this change is being driven by the introduction of software services, by consumer technologies slipping into the enterprise and by cloud computing and unified communications, just to name a few.

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The job of the IT manager has historically focused on managing information systems, patching servers and desktops and other tactical tasks. But this is no longer the core interest of new CIOs. "They want to talk about legal, about regulatory, etc.," Logan said. "The IT guys need training in evidence management."

The skill set for the new IT manager is changing. Tactical IT is not hot. But people with legal skills, knowledge of green IT, and digital archivists who know how to appraise digital records are in demand. Business expertise is considered more important than hands-on technical experience -- and you may not need both.

Old jobs are not being filled by the IT department and, actually, there is a skill shortage now. "It's not an interesting profession anymore and a number of older people are tired of managing the Exchange [Server] farm," she said. "The kids are doing other things."

SharePoint and e-discovery cloud the picture

What was puzzling to Logan originally was the fact that even though economic conditions changed, IT spending remained fairly constant. From 2002 through 2008, according to Gartner, IT spending has hovered between 61% and 68% of the overall IT budget for regular operations.

Money earmarked for growth has fluctuated from 19% to 24% of the overall IT budget during the same years. And money for technologies that are "transformational" in nature, like software services, for example, in IT has ranged from 13% to 18% of the overall growth in the same timeframe.

Logan said the reason the budget has remained constant is because non-IT parts of the company -- say, marketing or legal, for example -- are introducing and paying for technology. Legal may look for advice from IT about features and functions, but gone are the days when they needed IT's permission to spend.

To be clear, Logan said the applications introduced by departments are not large corporate applications like CRM, but rather SharePoint, an e-discovery application or perhaps even a forensics application that offers regulatory or compliance guides.

Logan advises IT managers today to think about what matters most -- technology or information. She said IT shops need to develop a message to communicate change to the rest of the enterprise. In the long term, the IT organization needs to review its training programs and staffing levels.

Gartner predicts that by 2010, the IT organizational landscape will have moved from its technology focus to one that looks at business outcomes and brokered solutions. The consultancy said the scale and pace of change will differ according to industry and not the size of the enterprise.

By 2012, the typical IT organization will split into two parts. One part will focus on technology sourcing and delivery and the other will be concerned with architecture and change. IT executives need to understand the company's business and how it will use IT, Gartner said.


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