Corporate Executive Board

Five IT Changes Your Business Should Address


Information management, end-to-end services, delivery operations, and technology-savvy business partners are fundamentally changing the role and structure of IT organizations, according to recent findings from Corporate Executive Board's Information Technology practice.

Given the magnitude of these shifts, it comes as no surprise that most organizations are thoroughly unprepared. Each shift will demand roles and skills different from those that exist in IT organizations today, yet 61 percent of organizations lack a comprehensive skill forecast and up to 80 percent fail to provide training or coaching in critical, emerging skills. They are, in effect, gambling on their ability to hire new skills as they need them. This might be considered a reasonable risk if other organizations were diligently doing the necessary training and development. If everyone takes the same gamble, however, the odds it will pay off are close to zero.

Which skills and roles will change the most? CEB identified five changes that every organization should address.

Finding No. 1: Demand for IT planning and strategy roles will more than double. Technology management will grow more complex as the number of stakeholders within (and beyond) the organization increases. Consequently, planning and strategy roles such as those of IT strategists, service managers, and information architects will see the greatest rise in importance. Demand for these roles and for those in security and business architecture will more than double, although they won't always be located within corporate IT. (See finding No. 3.)

Finding No. 2: New-to-world IT-related roles will emerge. The adoption of cloud computing and service management and an increased focus on information management and collaboration will require roles that don't yet exist in many organizations. These new roles include leadership positions in multifunctional shared services, service architects, technology brokers, and individuals who can foster these technologies and the behaviors and processes needed for collaboration. These roles will require new skills in information visualization, usability design, service delivery, unstructured information management, and cloud integration.

Finding No. 3: Traditional IT roles will relocate outside corporate IT. More than half the traditional roles in IT strategy, governance, architecture, and project management will migrate outside the IT organization. In most cases they will move to a multifunctional shared-services organization. In addition, line managers in business units will increasingly require basic IT-related skills such as requirements definition, project management, change management, product evaluation, and vendor management.

Finding No. 4: Traditional technical roles within corporate IT will decline by 80 percent or more. While technical expertise will be retained in architecture and integration, organizations will externalize most roles involved in delivering applications and infrastructure, resulting in at least an 80 percent drop in the head count for some of these roles within the corporate IT organization. Organizations that have undertaken extensive IT outsourcing have already seen this change occur.

Finding No. 5: Talent sourcing must broaden because few new IT-related roles will require an IT background. Businesses will increasingly find IT-related roles—particularly the new ones introduced above—difficult to source from within corporate IT. The roles require skills that workers can acquire only through experience elsewhere in the business or in specialist external roles such as consulting. Roles include relationship manager, technology broker, user-experience designer, and information architect. Conversely, only a handful of IT-related roles will require a deep technical background.

None of these changes calls into question the contribution IT can make to competitive advantage or the importance of having highly competent, innovative individuals managing IT. But as we have seen, this doesn't necessarily mean that the corporate IT function will serve as the primary location for the skills that provide that advantage—or that the skills needed today are the same that will be needed tomorrow. As the function evolves, organizations need to ensure that skills and roles evolve as well.

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CEB specializes in helping companies drive corporate performance by identifying and building on best practices. The organization offers data analysis, research, and advisory services relevant to business leadership. CEB's client and member network includes 85 percent of the Fortune 500, 50 percent of the Dow Jones Asian Titans, 70 percent of the FTSE 100, and 80 percent of the DAX-30. CEB membership encompasses 50 countries, 5,300 individual organizations, and 225,000 business professionals.

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