IT services evolving, Gartner says
It would be difficult to overstate how important the IT department is for most organizations. Without an IT department, many operations would simply cease to function, while others would lose a great deal of their effectiveness and efficiency.
However, while the general importance of IT services is fairly well established, many have a mistaken view of the role of IT departments. It is critical for organizations and individuals to realize, as Gartner recently pointed out, that IT departments are evolving to play an increasing role within various businesses, which will likely lead to new IT services, as well as the potential for IT careers.
New functions abound
Gartner analysts outlined the future of IT at the recent Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2012 in Barcelona. These analysts identified several ways that IT can be leveraged in the future.
For example, the firm noted that one possibility is "IT as the engine room." In this arrangement, the IT department will provide services that are delivered quickly and at market-competitive rates.
"The IT organization succeeds by monitoring technology and market developments, and building expertise in IT asset optimization, sourcing and vendor management, and IT financial management. It delivers ongoing cost improvements, looks for new ways to deliver the same IT capabilities for less, and is highly responsive to changing business needs," Gartner explained.
Another possibility identified by the research firm is that organizations begin to utilize IT as the basic business. In this scenario, the organization will be structured entirely around the flow of information, with IT services taking on a central role in regard to innovating within the value chain. This would mark a striking contrast to the more traditional role of IT, in which the department primarily exists to enable the rest of the business's processes.
New approach, new people
Discussing the panel, Fierce Enterprise Communications contributor Fred Donovan noted that expectations are rapidly growing for CIOs. In addition to ensuring that conventional IT infrastructures remain productive, CIOs are increasingly becoming responsible for encouraging innovation within organizations. Assuming Gartner's predictions come to pass, CIOs will need to work with other leaders within a business to determine not just what roles the IT department will fulfill, but also the best ways of achieving these goals.
One consequence of the increasing role of IT departments within businesses of all types will be a growing career opportunities in IT. Enterprises will likely need more IT workers, as well as IT workers with more varied backgrounds than in years past.
According to a separate Gartner report, this demand will also lead to increased spending on IT in the near future. The research firm found that IT spending will likely reach $1.1 trillion in 2013 among firms in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This represents 1.4 percent growth from 2012's figures. By 2016, IT spending in these regions is expected to reach $1.2 trillion.
The report noted that while IT spending growth is being driven by a number of trends, one of the most notable is the rise of mobile solutions. As smartphones, tablets and other devices become more popular and capable of a greater variety of functions, firms will be eager to take advantage of this technology. And as this trend expands, businesses will need to develop mobile device management (MDM) initiatives to ensure use of mobile technology does not lead to security vulnerabilities.
According to Gartner, two-thirds of workers will have a smartphone or tablet device by 2016.