How to co-exist with the cloud

The next 12 months will be an important time for many IT managers and professionals looking to solidify their future careers in the industry, according to Info-Tech Research Group Ltd.

The London, Ont.-based consultancy released a new report on Monday which tells IT workers to embrace social media, mobile apps, cloud computing, analytics tools, desktop virtualization and enterprise content management systems. The research firm said many Canadian business leaders are actively looking to deploy technologies in these areas whether IT shops are ready to support them or not.

“Just because IT isn’t giving these areas any attention, it doesn’t mean organizations are ignoring these technologies,” said Andy Woyzbun, a lead research analyst at Info-Tech.

While it’s easy to see how the move to cloud computing will shift IT resources off-site, Woyzbun said, the other emerging technology trends will also work to limit the size of IT shops going forward. For example, when individual business units look to create a mobile app or roll out an internal collaboration tool, most are turning to third-party developers and hosted Web services to fill the gap.

“In the case of social media, what we’re already seeing is IT organizations being somewhat bypassed by the marketing and PR groups,” he said.

“A lot of businesses, small and large, are moving away from the more restrictive model of blocking social media to a more liberal access model,” says Chenxi Wang, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

And, adds Bradley Anstis, vice-president of technical strategy at M86 Security, “we need to shift away from being the fun police, blocking access to all the new tools and capabilities. We need to instead become the trusted security adviser to our organization …We need to talk to the organization about how to safely enable the use of these tools and resources.”

Woyzbun added that while he doesn’t expect IT departments to shrink in the near future because of these emerging trends, the shift of IT procurement from a technology decision to a business decision will limit future growth at most IT shops.

To cope with this change, Woyzbun offered up some advice for both IT managers and IT professionals, which could include Web developers and programmers.

For IT leaders, he said, evolving into the role of enterprise thought leader will be key for those looking to stay relevant.

“Managers should be thinking about how IT can actually help the organization,” Woyzbun said. “You want to be part of the decision making and delivery process whether you build it in-house or buy it from somewhere else.”

The worst thing that any manager can do is brush off a particular technology as a “passing fad,” he added.

“If it’s of value to the organization, the organization is going to figure out how to leverage it with you or without you,” Woyzbun said.

For other IT workers, including technicians and developers, embracing change and actually working with third-party contractors could prove to be beneficial in the long-run. Woyzbun said that rather than fight to keep IT contractors out, in-house staff can embrace the idea and try to get involved and broaden their skills, especially in emerging areas like mobile and social media development.

“You want to be part of the project, at least to some degree,” he added.

This course of action will also be beneficial in the future, if the organizations want to integrate these third-party built systems into your company’s existing IT infrastructure.

— With files from Amy Bednarz, Network World (US)

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