Most of what I learnt over 16 years in the technology industry seems useless now. We were told that client-server computing was the be-all and end-all and that no one would buy dumb terminals anymore. All the magic was supposed to happen at the PC and the servers they connected to. Distributed architecture they called it. Now as I look around and see ‘traditional IT’ houses collapsing and merging into the Cloud and dumb terminals come back in the avatar of ‘Thin Clients’, it seems like a whole new world. Granted new inventions and technologies like server virtualisation, Cloud, VDI and hyper-converged infrastructure have been game changers. However, the biggest changes, in my opinion, are in how IT is viewed, how IT is consumed and how decisions on strategy are being made. Depending on your perspective, the changes can be threatening or exciting.
It is exciting from where I stand as IT is finally getting its due. It is no longer perceived as an arcane science but a true enabler that can help companies quickly launch new lines of business, improve processes and make more money. The lines between IT and other departments have become blurred as sales and marketing teams invest in technologies that help them predict buyer behaviour, tell them where their customers gather and ultimately help them close more deals and make more money. The IT department has a choice, either be a roadblock and perish or learn-adapt and collaborate with your peers to add real value.
The other big change is that the old discussion – Outsource Vs In-house has evolved. I feel that most business units simply don’t care as long as the job gets done. They have a clear mandate on what they have to achieve and by when. The focus now is on how rapidly they can put a skilled team together to tackle tasks at hand and if that means putting together a team of in-house and external experts then so be it. In the last 6 to 9 months, we have seen change at the very top of the IT food chain as well. Senior IT execs and CIOs with expertise in M&As, specialist domains etc have been called into run a program of works for a limited term. In many instances, we have been asked to find CIOs that can sit with the board of Directors and formulate a roadmap for the business based on the mandate handed down by the board. In some cases, on-demand CIOs have been tasked with being a sounding board or help peer review strategies and manage projects. Is the on-demand consumption of IT and resources here to stay or is it just a fad. Only time will tell!