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Opinion: Can IT survive?

By Jos
Oct 19, 2016
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  1. If you’ve ever worked at a business with at least 20 employees, you’ve undoubtedly run into “them”—the oft-dreaded, generally misunderstood, secretly sneered at (though sometimes revered) IT department. The goal of Information Technology (IT) professionals, of course, is to provide companies and their employees with the technical tools they need to not only get their jobs done, but to do so in an increasingly fast, flexible manner.

    Frankly, it’s a tough, and often times thankless job. If your computer stops working, the network goes down, or some aspect of the company web site stops functioning, IT gets the brunt of the frustration that inevitably occurs. Beyond these day-to-day issues, however, IT is also tasked with driving changes to the infrastructure that underlie today’s modern businesses.

    For that reason, IT has long been considered a strategic asset to most organizations. In fact, this central role has also turned the CIO—who typically runs IT—into a critical member of many business organizational structures.

    But the situation for IT (and CIOs) appears to be changing—ironically because of some of the very same factors that led to its rise: most notably, the need for increased agility and flexibility.

    The problem is, after several years (or more) of IT driven technological initiatives designed to improve reliability, increase efficiency, and reduce costs for key business processes, a large percentage of these companies have come to realize that the best solution is to have someone else outside the company take over. From more traditional business process outsourcing, through the evolution of nearly everything “as a service,” to the growth of public cloud computing resources, we’re witnessing the trickle of projects leaving the four walls of an organization grow into a fast-moving stream. As a result, IT departments are often doing less of the technical work and more of the management. In the process, though, they’re moving from a strategic asset to a growing cost center.

    The implications of this change are profound, not only for IT departments, but to the entire industry of companies who’ve built up businesses designed to cater to IT. All of a sudden, equipment suppliers have to think about very different types of customers, and IT departments have to start thinking about very different types of partners. Arguably, it’s also driving the kinds of consolidations and new partnerships between these suppliers that seem to be on the rise.

    All of a sudden, equipment suppliers have to think about very different types of customers, and IT departments have to start thinking about very different types of partners.

    The causes for these kinds of changes are many. Fundamentally, the revolution in the technology side of the business computing world has been even more extensive over the last few years than many first realized. To put it another way, though we’ve been hearing about the impact of the cloud seemingly forever, it’s only now that we’re really starting to feel it in the business computing world.

    Another cause is an interesting bifurcation in the challenges and complexities of the products and services that have traditionally sat under the watchful eye of the IT department. On the one hand, many previously complex technologies and systems that required specialized IT expertise have become easy enough for non-IT line of business leaders to purchase and successfully deploy. Converged and hyperconverged appliances, for example, have brought datacenter-grade compute, networking and storage capabilities into a single box that even moderately technically people can easily manage through a simple interface.

    In addition, managed service providers, hosted data exchanges, public cloud providers and a host of other companies that didn’t even exist just a few years back are offering utility-like computing servicesthat, again, are offering increasingly easy solutions for business departments and other non-technical divisions of a company to quickly and economically put into production. More importantly, they’re doing it at a significantly faster pace than what many overburdened and highly process-driven IT organizations can possibly achieve.

    Some IT professionals are dubious (and highly concerned) about these type of rogue shadow IT initiatives, but they don’t appear to be slowing down. In fact, in the case of a hot new area like Enterprise IoT, research has shown that it’s often a branch of a company’s Operations department (sometimes even called OT, or Operations Technology) that’s driving the deployment of devices like smart gateways and other critical new IoT technologies—not the IT department.

    At the other technological extreme, many companies are also finding that making the move to more cost-effective and more agile cloud-based solutions is actually proving to be much more technically complex and challenging than first thought. In fact, there’s recently been talk of a slowdown within some companies’ efforts to move more of their compute, software and services offerings to the cloud because of the lack of internal skill sets within IT to handle these new kinds of tasks. In addition, much of the most advanced computing work, in areas such as machine learning, AI and related areas, often requires access to specialized hardware and software that many companies don’t currently have.

    Many IT departments are finding themselves in an awkward position in the middle where the now-easier tasks no longer require their help, and the tougher tasks take a larger supply of employees with skill sets or resources they don’t currently have.

    The result is that many IT departments are finding themselves in an awkward position in the middle where the now-easier tasks no longer require their help, and the tougher tasks take a larger supply of employees with skill sets or resources they don’t currently have. Ironically, the very technology that started to create new opportunities for IT professionals (and which many feared would take away more traditional jobs) is poised to now start taking back jobs from IT as well. Needless to say, it’s a tough spot to be in.

    Despite these concerns, however, there is still clearly an important role for IT in businesses today—it’s just becoming much different than what it used to be. For CIOs and IT to succeed, it’s going to take a different way of thinking. For example, instead of evaluating products, it’s increasingly going to require evaluating and managing partners and services. Instead of sticking with slow, burdensome, “we’ll build it here” types of internal processes, it’s going to require a willingness to explore more external options.

    The importance of technology in business will only continue to increase over time. As technological solutions become more ubiquitous, however, the concept of distributed responsibility for these solutions will likely become the new reality.

    Bob O’Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm. You can follow him on Twitter . This article was originally published on Tech.pinions.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2016
  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,682   +787

    In it's heyday the IT professional made plenty of money, had infinite power, and was revered, no matter what you thought! Like so many professions, as it became flooded with bright young people willing to work for peanuts, salaries fell and there were more and more employee's that could "do it themselves", so the magic was gone. Now days many (not all) IT professionals are the source of blame for just about anything and are pushed from so many different directions, it's hard for them to focus on their primary responsibility.

    There are lots and lots of sources proclaiming they can teach you everything you need to know to be an IT pro, failing to mention that this training is only 1% of what is needed. That takes on job experience, making and fixing mistakes, and simple survival. Today I compare them to plumbers, who in the 19th century were one of the top trades. Their work brought sanitation to the modern world, cutting infant mortality and making life a lot easier. They weren't the kind of folks you wanted to shake hands with, but you also didn't want to offend them. Now days, swing by your home depote, pick up the "stuff" and you can do 75% of your own plumbing. IT has become a lot like that, without the frequent hand washing .......
     
    mbrowne5061 likes this.
  3. RedGuard

    RedGuard TS Rookie Posts: 22   +6

    What the F is this article talking about? "Them"? Software developers are people. Albeit more intelligent, more structured, more versed, simply put: better people. That doesn't mean the usual mobile "smart"phone user who doesn't know how to enable auto-correct or set their time and date have to shunt them into a special category.

    A good developer is like a pillow strapped to your *ss. He takes the hit when you f up.

    Now, outsourcing to India. That's another story. That's like a pillow with needles strapped to your head and somebody beating you with a baseball bat with the ever repeating "Hello, sir. How can I helping you today?".

    Pff, I bet you even read that in an Indian accent. Cause they're everywhere.
     
  4. EClyde

    EClyde TS Guru Posts: 710   +182

    I don't work IT. My experience with our IT dept has been good and bad. Revered? Never...ha ha ha. We are told not to touch the stuff so I don't. I call them for everything from a jammed printer to you name it. What kills me is when they want me to troubleshoot it for them. I tell them I have my own work to do and I ain't doing yours. They don't like it but tough tewilligers. My all time favorite IT ***** reply is...jammed printer in ER, that's not my job and I wouldn't know what to do. Generally, I think they are lazy..if they have to move around and walk that is. The poor guys and gals are so over worked. IMO they don't know what over worked is.
     
  5. RedGuard

    RedGuard TS Rookie Posts: 22   +6

    Uncle Bob said that every 5 years the developer population doubles. So you always have 50% of the workforce with less than 5 years of experience. It's difficult to find good developers that read/write perfect English, know their technology and can actually produce efficient software. Much harder than the rest of the 50% left. Maybe 10%, maybe 1%.
     
  6. RedGuard

    RedGuard TS Rookie Posts: 22   +6

    I think I get it, this article doesn't speak all that much about developers as about people who know how to turn on an off a device or maybe access 192.168.1.1 to access a router. Gotcha.
     
  7. Igrecman

    Igrecman TS Enthusiast Posts: 92   +48

    A job I wouldn't like to do. When you have access to more sensible and private data than the Boss, it's not long before everyone in the IT department is a suspect when a data leak or network breach happens. I knew one guy who committed suicide when he was accused. It was true that he did it though.
     
  8. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Guru Posts: 410   +88

    Wow . . . Member of the IT Master Race, soon to enslave the Indian population?
     
  9. NightAngel79

    NightAngel79 TS Booster Posts: 166   +41

    Troll much? lol

    You have literally NO idea what IT does, so don't try to guess. Maybe you had some lazy teenage working at a crap company, who knows. Face it, without IT you couldn't even DO your job.
    And at most places, printer management and support is outsourced, and IT is repeatedly told to not touch those devices due to service agreements and the extreme cost of multi-functions.

    So yea, keep talking about what you don't know :)
     
    DJMIKE25 and SantistaUSA like this.
  10. DJMIKE25

    DJMIKE25 TS Addict Posts: 155   +51


    You must not have a very good IT department, or one that requires much hands on work. I work for a managed service company and lazy is not a word that is in my vocabulary, nor those of my co-workers. Only 30% of what I do is sitting in front of a computer and I would dare to say that compared to what I do on a weekly basis you probably have no idea what over worked means. 8-5 every day working with servers, and network backbones for 50-60 clients. Then coming home and working another 6-8 hours on things that just can't be done while users are working during the day, and that's not including weekends that I work. The above poster is also correct. We usually don't touch Multifunction Copiers as most companies should have a service agreement with whoever they purchased it from, unless there is a network issue in which case we will step in to see what could be causing the problem on our end.

    As far as the article is concerned, I can agree that there are advantages and disadvantages to all of this cloud technology. For us as a company the ability to use many of these services are great, escpecially in the sense of backups and Disaster Recovery. We still like to have on site tape or RDX backups running, but the abillity to completely backup a server to the cloud and spin up a vm of that server if the physical goes down is great, and much less of a hassle than explaining to a client that they won't be able to access the server for umpteen hours. Of course the drawback being if the Internet is down there isn't much you can do anyway except use a physical bare-metal backup to restore.

    It can be tough to keep up with all of the changes in the world of IT when there is a new cloud service, windows version, software updates every day. Though its all just part of the job. Not much to be scared about just a lot to take in.
     
    NightAngel79 likes this.
  11. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,754   +1,107

    So the article is 'Can IT survive' and then it's point is something like this .. "the best solution is to have someone else outside the company take over" IT outside your company is still IT. So the article is really about whether IT 'Departments' will survive.

    The answer to that is yes. They will but they will change. You can only transfer certain types of skills to outsourced companies. Programming and IT is not always a commodity (meaning - anyone can do it as well as anyone else) but the knowledge specific to a certain business area is not a commodity. If you design software for a hospital you are not replaceable by Bob-The-Java-Developer. If you push the recycle button every time a web server crashes, then yes - you might be outsourced.

    IT is like construction - there are many many different jobs in it. Only the outsiders generalize. To say 'the future is outsourcing' is like assuming that because someone knows how to use a hammer they can build you a house.

    Methinks Bob the Journalist should have interviewed some IT folks.
     
    thelatestmodel likes this.
  12. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 867   +277

    I used to work in IT back in the late 90s and early 2000s... In the beginning, 90% of my "work" entailed telling someone "make sure it's plugged in" or "Turn it off, wait 10 seconds, turn it back on".

    Nowadays, MOST employees do this on their own (there are still some who don't - GRRRRR at them!!), and the IT department can focus on other things. Technology has become more advanced, and the simple "setup our server and email" has become something that is usually outsourced and vastly more complex than simply setting up an Exchange Server, registering MX records and running backup software etc...

    All jobs evolve - anyone who thought IT wouldn't is a fool. Will IT "die"? I don't think so.... but it will certainly contiune to evolve and change as information technology and the people who use IT evolve and change.
     
  13. RedGuard

    RedGuard TS Rookie Posts: 22   +6

    I'm trying , but there are always some other people from India/Pakistan that would do it cheaper than me. Enslave themselves, that is.
     
  14. axiomatic13

    axiomatic13 TS Booster Posts: 88   +30

    The biggest issue with IT, upper management. Reducing headcount to the point of overwork. Not understanding that IT is expensive, reducing budgets to the point that they are ineffective. There just being WAY TO MANY managers in middle management to directors causing the need to reduce headcount of the core engineers to keep salarie budgets in line. Setting ridiculous goals for deployment. And my favorite, not spending anything for future proofing.
     
  15. axiomatic13

    axiomatic13 TS Booster Posts: 88   +30

    When was the last time ANYONE saw a manager remove himself for cost reasons? No its always a worker bee that gets the axe then its just a short time until the team no longer functions and your job is replaced by overseas IT.
     
  16. EClyde

    EClyde TS Guru Posts: 710   +182

    I need NO idea what IT does unless they want an idea of what I do and I am sure they could care less. What I want IT to do is what needs to be done so I can get critical patient results to the right place. I don't want to hear any blather
     
  17. EClyde

    EClyde TS Guru Posts: 710   +182

    No one complains more the IT. Poor babies.
     
  18. amstech

    amstech TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 1,457   +606

    This article is comical.
    Yes, the people that can reset printers and passwords will work for pennies now.
    Those aren't technicians, their infants. They don't know sh!t.

    IT is critical in Medical I can tell you that, working at a 800+ user/50+ Server Hospital for over 8 years now, I got my hands on bar code, wrist and regular laser printers, every version of Office since 03, wireless issues of all sorts, cabling, patching, VoiP, remote access, webinars, user training, cloning/imaging, software training (Varian, Dragon, Medhost) , Medcarts, Telemedicine, advanced software, security and cameras, (Milestone) etc etc etc etc, I could write paragraphs of what is on my resume now. And thats just the beginning.
    The definition of a real tech has changed, its just that many people can fool others and themselves they are something they are not because todays average person has a poor technology and hardware understanding.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
    NightAngel79 and EClyde like this.
  19. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Maniac Posts: 423   +221

    It's simple economics.

    The FREE MARKET will decide what jobs are necessary and which jobs aren't. In the 90's - 2000's, IT was big and people getting Computing degrees were the cream of the crop. Now - there is RECESSION.

    Recession doesn't need to be a bad thing...it's just a market correction scaling back on the unneeded degrees by offering less money.

    The reality is that IT will always be around, simply because networking is so problematic with modern equipment. Schools need them, Hospitals need them and most offices need them - on call.
     
    fl21289 likes this.
  20. fl21289

    fl21289 TS Booster Posts: 59   +38

    This article is stupid... if a company goes outside for IT help... They still need IT people working in the company they are outsoucring with.
     
  21. DJMIKE25

    DJMIKE25 TS Addict Posts: 155   +51

    I think you're confused with "No one complains more than to IT", as it sounds like you do plenty of complaining. Interestingly enough, you lump all IT together. I enjoy working slowly for people such as yourself. The simple minded.
     
    NightAngel79 likes this.
  22. EClyde

    EClyde TS Guru Posts: 710   +182

    I can tell you are not one of the 10% that are good at what they do. If you worked slowly for me then you would not care that patients are being neglected. I would not work slowly for your mother because I didn't like the nurse
     
  23. DJMIKE25

    DJMIKE25 TS Addict Posts: 155   +51

    I wouldn't, unfortunately, but it feels nice to say. Fortunately I don't have any need for your approval, nor am I concerned how well you feel I do my job. Luckily I don't have clients who are unappreciative of the work we do such as yourself. I wouldn't be so quick to judge as I'm sure plenty of people have an opinion about how well you do your job.
     
    NightAngel79 likes this.
  24. Wizwill

    Wizwill TS Rookie Posts: 24   +7

    Cloud computing, data mining, NSA snooping, offshoring and a host of cost cutting technology have taken the common sense out of being an IT person. None of these things work very well but it is politically incorrect to say so. Just keep on earning your $15 an hour trying to patch this crap together.
    Definition of Political correctness - The mistaken belief you can pick a turd up by yhe clean end. belief
     
  25. gusticles41

    gusticles41 TS Rookie Posts: 26   +15

    You're the worst haha. You have a bad impression of your tier 1 support, that's fine. But you have no clue what goes on behind the scenes to keep your equipment and systems running with minimal downtime. Or the degree of knowledge needed to protect you and your patient's info. Show some respect for the things you don't even need to THINK about, because there's a well-oiled machine running 24/7 behind the scenes to make your life easier, and it's obviously under-appreciated wherever you work.
     
    DJMIKE25 and NightAngel79 like this.

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