Today IT departments are an integral part of any business, How the IT department is set up can vary a lot from one company to another, but some functions are the same. With many IT services moving to the cloud, IT services will change and evolve.
Please keep it simple and minimize the effort to build & maintain thousands of robust, high-quality data connectors.
Building robust software requires automated testing techniques like black-box testing: before shipping something to the user, we must verify it behaves correctly under both “happy” and adverse conditions.
Define a Specification: a set of standard rules and behaviours which allow anyone to connect to the framework.
We can significantly reduce the developer effort required for testing by providing a set of prebuilt test suites (CATs) that can be used by every connector, regardless of the data silo it connects to or its implementation language.
I have drawn my observations from talking to small to medium size businesses that all have IT departments. My own path in technology started back in the 1980s as a software developer for a FinTech company, and I have been working with IT departments at financial institutions around the world.
I have seen a lot of change taking place over the years in how IT department’s functions have changed. In the early days of the 1980s, there were not that many roles in an IT department, the majority of staff did not have desktop computers, and IT was down to keeping a mainframe operational.
Over the years, the functions of IT have become more complicated, with many specialized roles, and the departments have grown in size.
I have been talking to old friends from around the world, and this article will provide my view on where the IT function is heading in the future.
First, I want to say it’s a very exciting time for IT as
Businesses will, in the resource-constrained world of IT, find ways to reduce the cost and overhead of delivering technology. In the convergence of automation, mobility, big data, the cloud, collaboration tools, and the internet of things will mean sweeping changes not only for business in general but also for the role and function of the IT department.
Make this a Quote
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”– Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The IT department’s primary objective will be to cater to the internal customer’s needs. However, it is time to move away from superfluous details and delve into how I envision IT evolving in the future.
IT departments will become smaller, and the staff needed for the smaller IT functions will be highly skilled and more strategic. Technology is becoming more about managing services through customization than commoditization.
IT managers must focus on innovation rather than “keeping the lights on.” In the future, the role of IT management will shift from controlling IT services to enabling the rest of the business to use technology more effectively.
That means failing fast, learning from mistakes, and continually adapting, and the IT manager will learn how to complete projects quicker and close down projects quickly if they do not work.
Having an IT budget and working on reducing costs is not what IT managers should do in the future, they should innovate heavily. Understand the business, and start running an innovation lab, investigating technologies and how they can work for the company.
If you have not started automating support, it’s time to start, as this will, over time, free up resources and make you more customer-facing. A lot of the support functions will be using chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI)
AI and chatbots will become the key to automation, but it comes with a cost for the people whose livelihood it is to support it. Is there a threat that AI and automation will take away jobs?
It will shift roles of supporting people to doing things that need to be done by humans, not reducing the number necessarily. This renewed focus on customer service will be the defining feature of the next wave of business innovation.
That will have implications for CIOs, who will need to work closely with the business to help them develop the analytical and collaborative tools they need to understand their customers better. Poor customer service is no longer acceptable. People will want speedy answers and a speedy turnaround, and they want it today.
To take advantage of innovations like artificial intelligence, you must first move away from manual processes. For that reason alone, automation should be a key short-term priority for most CIOs.
Automation isn’t just about saving time or money. Done well, automation reduces errors, increases employee satisfaction by freeing staff from tedious tasks, improves the customer experience and allows you to scale up.
The situation might worsen initially as businesses tend to seek out external services that they wish to use, sometimes without involving the IT department. Additionally, for years, the IT industry has been influenced by Silicon Valley, which is the major provider of IT services. However, with China’s growing presence, the market might become more balanced in the future.
Ideally, I would prefer to see a European cloud provider that can rival the leading American companies, such as IBM, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Oracle.
Hover, turn and twist, and talk to companies. There are many examples where SLAs are being met, and the customer is unhappy. In the future, SLAs will be replaced by experience-level agreements (XLAs).
The typical silos are fading away, now one big chain. Where there’s true collaboration going on, there is a big impact on the customer experience.
This shift to a more holistic perspective results in a growing trend of service desks and other support teams supporting internal and external customers. Enterprises are beginning to reimagine the role of the support organization as they recognize that technology is now critical to the customer experience and that their existing support teams are best positioned to provide support for these technologies.
Supporting an ever-more-complex technology stack and the needs of internal and external customers is no easy task.
Throw in that AI and other forms of automation will reshape how support organizations operate in the first place. The result is a support function that will look and feel wildly different from what exists today.
Changing IT department
Technology will be less about operational delivery, infrastructure, and solutions in the future and more about working with the business. Moving away from having their data center to a cloud provider and keeping the lights on become the cloud provider’s responsibility.
This will be particularly true when it comes to analytics and big data. Data scientists are in short supply, so organizations will increasingly turn to external suppliers as the internet of things drives the need for data analytics.
Moving services to the cloud will reduce the need to manage multiple suppliers, as cloud providers will improve the technology stack and deliver corporate-wide solutions. There might be more service providers to choose from in the short term, but that will change over time.
Inefficient travel and expense systems waste a lot of employee time. Cloud storage platforms such as Box and OneDrive have added OCR and image recognition to scrape information from receipts. Services like MileIQ can track mileage for travel claims.
There’s also increasing interest in areas such as accounts payable automation.
Connecting on-premises infrastructure to cloud services with tools like System Center and Intune allows IT to automate extremely hands-on device deployment and configuration processes. For example, using the Windows 10 feature Autopilot automates device setup and management through Azure Active Directory as soon as users turn on a new PC for the first time.
A new Desktop Analytics service available in preview soon extends automation to app compatibility testing, which currently takes significant resources and slows down upgrading to new versions of Windows.
The biggest challenge to IT in the future is security. Security could negatively impact connectivity to public networks. If these problems cannot be successfully addressed, I envision a time of closed, private networks and less information sharing. The risks now are so significant and getting worse every day that we even see foreign governments toppling superpowers the way Russia toppled the US and put its puppet in charge because of weak controls and poor security.
The biggest problem isn’t the machines; it’s the people involved at every level, inside and out. The biggest threats are not from the outside – they are both innocent and malicious insider threats. For example, even well-meaning people in the government leave laptops with classified information on buses by accident. People in the office find security too inconvenient and find ways to get around it. Malicious people shoulder-surf or use social engineering.
And this doesn’t even consider the plethora of tools used by malicious individuals and governments to defeat security, steal money and information, and set themselves up to blackmail businesses and other leaders. AI will not solve this problem because the biggest issue isn’t the machines. The weakness is in the people. And unless we can find some way to eliminate or alleviate that problem, the future of IT, at least in the public domain, will change to a more locked-up state. I have even thought that devolution to something like SNA architecture is possible because at least air-gapped internal networks are harder to compromise and easier to secure from insider threats.
That combination of on-premises and cloud management can also improve security and compliance by automatically monitoring suspicious behaviour linked to conditional access policies for devices. Setting up such a system can lock devices that show unusual behaviour out of crucial enterprise systems on the network, blocking attackers while you tackle the infected machines.
Automation is a vital part of DevOps, especially in creating builds for continuous deployment. Test automation starts with creating test environments. With containerization, you’re creating disposable environments that are super easy to stand up and very isolated, facilitating development and testing at higher velocities.
Automating the testing process is more complex but also critical for increasing the development speed and reliability and the biggest problem is not the technology but the cultural change involved.
HR and recruiting
Automating administrative tasks to free up recruiters’ time is another worthwhile area to explore, says Kurt Heikkinen, CEO of Montage, which creates video interviewing software. “Organizations should consider automating the mundane, administrative work involved in recruiting, such as conducting phone screens and scheduling interviews.”
Over half of the organizations Montage recently surveyed are already using automation for applicant interview scheduling, which helps HR handle high application volumes by pre-qualifying candidates. “By automating, organizations enable their recruiters to become more strategic and focus on meeting the modern candidate’s needs and expectations [and] build meaningful relationships with those candidates to eventually secure top talent,” Heikkinen says.
The next step is using AI tools to help assess candidates, which creates more consistency in the recruiting process; nearly half of the organizations Montage spoke to are also doing that.
Repetitive, low-value HR tasks can also be automated, like calculating leave benefits or working out the value of accrued vacation time when employees leave. By integrating various systems, automation can have a greater impact. For example, matching employee badge swipes and computer usage can help track whether vacation records are accurate. Use the HR time freed up by this for questions that require greater consideration, like parental leave, Gownder suggests.
Changing job roles
Future technology leaders will need to be more competent in understanding the business, and they will need to be better at managing change and managing stakeholders in the rest of the company. Those skills will trickle down from the CIO to IT professionals lower in the hierarchy.
Technical roles will be increasingly outsourced to third-party suppliers as organizations use the cloud to simplify their applications and IT infrastructure. Operational roles will come under pressure, and if there is a risk involved, it’s the people in highly technical roles that have a bias to infrastructure that are likely to be outsourced.
In the project management space, we will see people who are more generalists and who trade more on their stakeholder management skills than on pure technology. Many of the roles in tomorrow’s IT departments do not yet exist.
Changing the way IT communicates and speaking the language of the business will become more critical than ever. There is no excuse for not using the language of internal customers. And that can mean helping the business solve its problem, even when you know it’s a wrong problem.
The IT department of 2020 might be smaller and less focused on technology, but for IT professionals, it is likely to offer a more rewarding career.
Gender balance in IT
Gender balance in the field of IT continues to be a significant concern in several countries. In the past, countries like Sweden had a more balanced representation of women in technology roles, including programmers, project managers, and managerial positions. However, in some other regions, such as the Middle East and Asia Pacific, there were very few women in such roles. Nowadays, the balance seems to vary depending on the country and the specific company.
While there are fewer women than men in technology roles across many countries, the root cause of the issue appears to be biased hiring practices. Companies may struggle to identify and attract female technologists, which may be due to several reasons. For instance, women may lack confidence in their abilities or may not perform well in interviews, leading to fewer job offers. Hiring the right candidates, in general, is a challenging task, with many qualified candidates often competing for the same roles. Companies often set high standards and conduct team interviews, which may prove intimidating for some candidates.
Another problem is that employers may not fully acknowledge the abilities of women in IT roles. Despite possessing the required technical skills and experience, women may face challenges and obstacles that hinder their progress and career advancement.
In conclusion, gender balance in IT remains a significant issue in many countries, with biased hiring practices and a lack of recognition of women’s abilities among the challenges that must be addressed.
However, the situation varies depending on the country and company. Looking to the future, the IT industry will likely evolve significantly, possibly shifting away from Silicon Valley’s dominance and the emergence of new service providers. Ideally, we could see a European cloud provider emerge to rival the leading American companies, ultimately offering more options for businesses seeking IT solutions.