Where IT Workers Must Go Next (Or Integrators Will Do It For Them)

Big changes are coming to IT departments and IT professionals. Cloud solutions, mobile applications and support for an interconnected workforce will require very different skill sets for IT.
Written by Brian Sommer, Contributor

The nature of IT work in corporations has always been a changing lot. IT pros have had to learn one new programming language after another. They have had to migrate from batch systems to online/real-time systems to client-server systems to Web 1.0 software and Web 2.0 technologies.

But, look in the IT departments of large corporations today. Where are large numbers of IT workers doing? Many are supporting on-premise software. Some are working on their company’s website and a scarce few are developing really strategic custom applications.

At lunch the other day, I listened to a friend and very cool CIO tell me how he’s trying to change the culture of his IT staff. Previously, the IT team hated it when a new technology (e.g., iPad or iPhone 4) comes on the scene as they saw it as something else that they must support even though there is no budget to do so and they are already overtaxed with other responsibilities.

What my colleague is doing is instead telling his IT leaders to go buy four of these devices and do two things with them: 1) find out how to support these technologies and 2) identify some new strategic uses for these. He knows that change, even in IT departments, is still a change management challenge. As such, it needs attention if it is to occur. But he also knows that what we think of IT today is going to change dramatically very soon. The new IT will about cloud solutions and mobile technologies that deliver a whole new set of capabilities and possibilities for interconnected workers.

I relate all of this as Appirio has recently released the results of a great study on cloud adoption by large enterprises. A lot of what they discovered mirrors what I personally observed in a research study I did earlier this year on the same subject.

Some of the interesting statistics in their report are:

“59% say business agility was among their top 3 reasons to consider cloud solutions (vs. 47% for TCO reduction)

75%+ say cloud-to-cloud integration and better mobile access are important priorities (more than 80% still say security and manageability are priorities)

Only 4% have fully integrated their cloud applications with each other

Only 15% plan to execute future cloud projects using only internal resources”

(Source: Appirio, State of the Public Cloud: The Cloud Adopters’ Perspective, October 2010)

The implications of the above are interesting. IT departments will have a lot of work in front of them soon if they are to provide the kinds of solutions and integration required of them. They will need to be able to connect numerous cloud solutions together as well as connect these to on-premise applications and data stores. But, what could be more jarring will be their need to connect data from these various cloud solutions to numerous hand-held and portable Internet devices that employees, customers, suppliers and other systems constituencies will use to access tomorrow’s corporate data.

Do IT groups have to provide this cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-mobile integration? In a word, Yes. For should they fail to do so, then newer integrators, like Appirio will fill the void. Re-read the statistics above for some sobering, contemplative analysis.

IT professionals have been an extraordinarily adaptive lot. This set of changes, as IT goes cloud and mobile, will really test the change capabilities of this profession. IT is entering an all-new ERA here and this change will be revolutionary not incremental.

To read the complete Appirio report, click here.

To read my report from this Spring, click here.

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