The move to cloud computing is greatly impacting the modern IT professional. The organizational structures and responsibilities within IT departments are changing, and despite common belief, the role isn’t going anywhere. In fact, need for knowledgeable and skilled IT professionals is growing. According to the Computerworld Forecast 2016 Survey, the top three factors driving an increase in IT headcounts are:
- 63% New Systems/Projects
- 45% Corporate Growth/Systems Expansion
- 42% Need for staff with technology and business background to articulate IT’s value to business
Traditionally, IT professionals spent most of their time on routine, day-to-day administration tasks. They were maintenance personnel, firefighters, and behind-the-scenes employees that kept things running. Their typical tasks included:
- Scheduled maintenance
- Unscheduled maintenance
- Storage and quota management
- Data recovery
But the days of traditional IT are over. As organizations begin to adopt cloud computing, IT responsibilities are shifting – in fact, 59% said that the structure and responsibilities of their IT team have changed in the past 12 months. (State of Cloud IT 2016 Survey) IT teams receive more strategic responsibilities today due to the cloud and other new technology implementations. IT is also able to save time by automating or offloading the traditional routine tasks listed above. For example, cloud adopters are spending 25% less time on scheduled maintenance. (Trends in Cloud IT)
While many think that cloud computing is removing the need for IT professionals, this is quite far from the truth. The IT role is simply evolving and requiring these professionals to contribute in new ways. They get to contribute at a more strategic level and shift away from the traditional role.
New strategic tasks include:
Change Management and End-User Training: This responsibility allows IT to work more directly with business users and improve the efficiency of their work and their capabilities for collaboration. This prepares and equips users for any changes in the environment. IT is now expected to maintain strong communication not only within their team, but with other departments. They may even help enable new ways of working, like including mobile and flexible work patterns.
Security Improvements: Modern IT professionals are expected to put a greater focus on policies, procedures and control within their organization and delegate responsibilities and access to the right individuals, as not everyone needs access to everything. Security is approached differently in the cloud environment, and IT is now responsible for making the necessary changes, training the business, and creating rules and processes in regards to security. IT should make users aware of security risks and create a strong culture of security to better protect business and customer data.
Cloud Application Selection and Vetting: IT professionals have become at least influencers, if not the primary decision makers, when it comes to selecting cloud services. They have the knowledge to evaluate and select new systems that can impact workflow and the user experience while keeping the business’ requirements, strategy, and goals in mind. They are also gaining the power to challenge the status quo within their organization and discover new tools that may get the job done better.
Integration: IT is expected to integrate new solutions that can improve business productivity and keep the business running smoothly and uninterrupted. This may include the integration of devices, files, applications, and more.
Data Analysis: Data analysis is a growing need for businesses, and a lot of the responsibility is landing on IT’s shoulders. Today, businesses are collecting data at a massive scale. Cloud tools offer IT the ability to generate business-critical insights across users and departments in minutes. IT is then expected to use these insights to improve the efficiency of the organization, prove the effectiveness of solutions that have been implemented, uncover opportunities, and more. (To learn more about Big Data analytics, start our new course.)
Strategic Planning: IT professionals can also be considered strategic advisers today, as they are expected to create the long-term strategy for cloud services within the organization. They should use their technology and business expertise to generate ideas and guide decisions. IT will have a big focus on research and planning the technology roadmap. They should be working closely with business users to identify how they are working, and where processes could be more efficient. This is a key IT responsibility, as it ensures that organizations are not left behind. IT is becoming the go-to for technology knowledge, skills and strategy.
Modern IT professionals are guiding business transformation that is now a requirement for an organization to remain competitive. They are collaborating with C-Suite executives and are responsible for selling the technical merits as well as benefits for growth and agility of new solutions like cloud computing, Big Data, the Internet of Things and more. IT is necessary to provide the context for the value of new technology. The IT role isn’t leaving any time soon – it’s actually gaining importance. Today, IT is vital to a business’ success. You could even say it’s at the heart of every single business activity.