IT is Dead…Long Live IT

Ok, so it’s a pretty bold statement, but the future of the IT role is set to change dramatically as the way businesses consume technology evolves.

(It’s probably worth pointing out that I ‘killed off’ my beloved SharePoint in a previous blog even though SharePoint now underpins Office 365 apps such as Teams, Groups and Planner and as a result is probably even more significant than it was before. You’ll soon see there’s a bit of a theme going on here!)

Admittedly, the extent and timescales will depend on adoption and in reality, this ‘new world’ may still be some distance in the future for many, with a relatively small percentage of 10% currently fully switched to the cloud (Fuze).

Traditionally IT has been about keeping the computer systems that everyone has come to rely on to drive the business up and running; ensuring data and files are backed up; servers are running efficiently; that there is plenty of storage and processing capacity, etc.

It sounds simple, but anyone who has worked in IT for a few years knows this is not as straightforward as it looks; your operating system provider releases an update or patch and all hell breaks loose because your ERP solution is rendered offline as a result; when the phones stop ringing you can eventually get on with the challenging and time-consuming task of diagnosing and fixing the problem.  

We’ve all been there and got the t-shirt.

Apparently, so we’re told, the cloud is going to change all of that.

Unfortunately, the cloud brings with it a whole raft of new terminology and acronyms – Internet of Things (IoT), SaaS, IaaS and all sorts of other ‘things’ – which scare the living daylights out of many small and mid-size organisations; some of whom have only just got their heads around the concept of virtualisation and BYOD.

Chuck in new legislation like GDPR and we seem to be heading towards the perfect storm.

It’s time for IT to step up to the plate.

All of a sudden we’re back in fashion boys and girls, but not as we knew it Spock.

Suddenly IT is all about strategy: it’s a protector, an enabler, a basis for digital transformation and so much more.

Once we’ve have moved to the cloud, t’internet and all that, the IT team will surely spend less time fighting fires and be more focused on innovating.

When a piece of hardware fails in this new world what do we do? We throw it in the bin and get a replacement.

But who will set it up? Actually, once policies and permissions are established, that’s done through an online console; no more on premise applications, no need even for VPN. And, of course, data is all stored securely in the cloud.

(You may still take the occasional call and have to advise that a reboot is required. That’s “switch it off and switch it on again” to you and me!)

And what happens now if there’s a flood and your office is under 3 feet of water?

Simple. Work from home. Even if your work device is floating around in the office you can fire up your home PC or tablet, log in with your work credentials and crack on.

As far as I know, our office isn’t under water but it’s worth pointing out that I’m writing this on the 05:58 Darlington to Kings Cross train using the free on-board WiFi, so everything I write is saved automatically to my cloud storage.

Of course, you’ll still need your IT team to ensure comms, routers and security are all in place and cloud services are running smoothly and uptime SLAs meet the 4, 5 or 6 nines that are promised (4 nines being 99.99%).

So, what do I need from my IT team in the new world of the cloud?

I want more than just email and the latest versions of Word, Excel etc…in fact, a lot of my staff just need “document viewing and light editing” capabilities as many rarely create new documents.

I want more ROI from my move to cloud services.

I need IT to implement new tools to improve efficiency, meet our compliance needs and ensure we are secure. With GDPR on the horizon, we certainly can’t afford for data to ‘leak’ or be shared with unauthorised users.

My IT team needs to adopt a dual role of business analysts and software configurators. And I certainly don’t want custom or bespoke code because that creates risk in the business, and I want to minimise risk.

I sincerely hope I’ll never again get the phone call or email asking me to “log off as I need to reboot the server”. Aghhhhhh!

We live in a world in which the engine on an Airbus A380 can relay a fault mid-flight to operations and in turn they ensure a man in a van is waiting at the gate to fit the correct new part.

More significantly, the kind of technology that enables this to happen is now widely available and affordable for businesses of all sizes.

So, surely I can view my 30-day aged debtors report on the 05:58 and work with colleagues, wherever they might be working, to address the anomalies and improve cashflow.

Guess what? Because of the solutions implemented by our IT team – analysis, configuration, collaboration tools – I can.

Long live IT, I say.

As a foot note, the biggest challenge for most IT departments is that they’re living somewhere between the old and the new worlds.

This often means exploring new technologies and new possibilities is a task that isn’t necessarily top of the priority list. Catch 22.

Our Futuretech events and webinars are designed to help you get an insight into the art of the possible, and we’re in the process of confirming dates and venues for the coming months. Keep an eye on our events page.