Imagine if you could snap your fingers and the perfect IT infrastructure for taking your company to the future appeared. Chances are it would look nothing like what you have today. Gone would be the complex architecture, incompatible applications, disparate data repositories and a staff light on future-directed skill sets. The internal focus would have shifted from operations to innovation, cost cutting to revenue creation, business support to customer experience.
From the moment your company’s first computer booted up, data center complexity has been building. And building. Suddenly your IT operations finds itself thrust into a time warp. In a few short years mobile technology, cloud computing, Big Data and social media have rendered much of it out of step with what the enterprise needs and expects from it. In turn, that drives decisions regarding new technology adoption and investment out of the hands of IT, in some cases down to individual employees.
This critical transitional time is redefining the role of the CIO or, as some speculate, calling into question the necessity of the role at all. International Data Corporation (IDC) believes the waves are breaking over the heads of CIOs. It forecasts that 70 percent will be changing their primary roles from IT management to innovation partner, and that enterprise architecture will become a required IT tool over the next two years.
As a consequence, the new roles emerging to manage businesses through the transition will be hybrid roles – a combination of technologies (virtualization, storage, data architecture, etc.), business, security, marketing, project management, CRM, cloud, Big Data and social media, among others). The technician/specialist roles and responsibilities will largely be commoditized. Success will be less about the IT tools and technologies and more about how businesses apply them successfully … or not.
Whether cloud computing is forcing or enabling this rapid transition is a philosophical discussion for another time. The fact of the matter is that the application of technology to drive revenue and the customer experience is supplanting the management of technology itself in the enterprise … unless the enterprise in question is the cloud services provider (CSP) itself.
The master technicians and specialists of compute, software, storage, networking and infrastructure, and their innumerable combinations, will be the CSPs. And, while commoditization plays a key role in the cloud computing model, the skills with which services are provisioned, packaged, managed and maintained, together with the competency and professionalism of people responsible, will distinguish CSP leaders from laggards.
CSP leaders are the IT staff CIOs want.