Recently The Gartner Group published a study reviewing the changes in perception of IT groups in companies. Apparently, IT groups and specifically CIO's are beginning to catch on that they aren't there to run a trouble ticket service and keep the protection walls up, but should be business enablers.
Gartner identified four possible new futures for enterprise IT organizations.
1. IT as a Global Service Provider
This future looks more like IT is a company within a company. Run with it's own charter delivering IT services and business process management as a centralized effort. No longer does this IT organization run itself as a cost center, but takes on a marketing perspective and seeks out new clients to 'buy' their services which deliver real value throughout the entire organization. This organization realizes it is competing with outsourcing activities to remain relevant to the company it serves.
2. IT as the Engine Room
Another future looks like IT as an enabler of assets which it is constantly growing within. Again this organization is proactive in seeking out new opportunities to deliver value to the business both at the department and enterprise levels. This future looks at finding ways to deliver as much or more for less while responding to ever changing business needs.
3. IT “is” the Business
This future is an extension of the host business where information and knowledge is the real business. In this case the business is an example of what the business is. It's taking the delivery of what you sell and apply it directly to your own business. Focus on information flow which spawns innovation throughout a value chain instead of supporting the typical services found in most companies.
4. Everyone’s IT
Now we get to the new radical paradigm. And this one is a real shift in thinking. "Loose the dogs of data," is the mantra of this IT organization. Enable everyone in the company to use information and technology. Take a very proactive and investigative attitude about how information and technology creates advantage for the company. More importantly Data is the focus, technology is only an enabler. This is a bit of anarchy since now the IT is diffused throughout the entire organization and not centralized as an activity. New champions will arise to take leadership roles which formerly were seen the exclusive realm of the IT gurus. Only the more mature organizations will likely see the advantages of this collaborative, open and horizontal deployment of IT so most likely it will be the model of newer companies or collectives.
According to John Mahoney, vice president and analyst at Gartner, this new breed of CIO will set the stage for these futures, defining their new roles and identifying the charter of their new organizations. To ensure adoption these CIOs will need to involve the rest of the senior team and IT stakeholders for this kind of change will set a new direction for the entire company.
I have my suspicions that if this forth option were looked at as a possible model for other senior responsibilities, real interdisciplinary activity would take hold and then those companies adopting this new model will find themselves outpacing all others in their market segments. Certainly, this is a model of hybrid thinking and looking at solving complex problems the new millennium companies will need to address.