The evolving IT organization

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At its European CIO convention held in Barcelona last month, Gartner Research VP John Mahoney stated that most large IT organizations will divide into at least two parts in the next five years, one focussed on sourcing and delivery of infrastructure and applications, and another on architecture and change centred on the business assets of process, information and relationships.

This evolution shouldn’t be surprising. IT shops have been evolving and adapting from their very inception. Most have long since emerged from the primordial ooze in which their IT ancestors moiled, effectively cut off from the rest of the business. Somewhere along the line they grew the necessary appendages to crawl out on land and walk upright among their business peers.

Today’s best CIOs are taking their organizations into territory that earlier IT shops never dreamed of going. Rather than mere pack animals, whose primary function is to relieve the business of its manual heavy lifting, leading IT shops are becoming champion thoroughbreds, selectively bred to enable the business to beat its competitors to the finish line. Not only are these IT thoroughbreds fleet afoot, they are also a rung up on the influence ladder, able to provide input into the strategic direction of the business.

Mr. Mahoney also stated that a new IT organization type is emerging, one that will take the lead on information and process. “While it will grow from an IT base,” he said, “its primary focus will be business transformation and strategic assets of information, process and relationships. When mature, it may no longer be identified as an IT organization.”

At that point, I suppose it is fair to imagine that the IT department will have sprouted wings and flown up into the corporate ether. Where it goes from there is anyone’s guess.

I have just one closing thought on all of this. If you want a long and happy career as a CIO, you’d better make sure that your IT organization – no matter how evolved – never ceases to grow and change with the business. We all know what happens to those who get caught in an evolutionary cul-de-sac – they go extinct. 077218

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