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Four trends reshaping corporate IT departments

Corporate IT departments are morphing at warp speed -- or they'd better be. CEB's Andrew Horne explains.

Easy access to cloud computing resources, the spread of smart mobile devices and the reach of social networking are spurring employees to reinvent how they work. As CEB's Andrew Horne discusses in this expert tip, the workforce's embrace of these technologies also forces CIOs to rethink their IT staffing strategy. Horne identifies four broad forces reshaping corporate IT departments and updates the roles CIOs should home in on to give their companies a competitive advantage.

In the first of a two-part article, Horne discusses the implications of the shift from automation to information management, the strong trend toward developing end-to-end IT services and five roles that should be on every CIO's radar.

Andrew Horne
Andrew Horne

Corporate IT departments are changing fast. According to CEB, 92% of CIOs have recently reorganized their IT departments or plan to do so. We believe four trends are reshaping the way corporate IT operates and creates value: information over process, IT embedded in the business services, greater business partner responsibility and externalized service delivery. These four trends have significant implications for IT roles and skills. We have seen each one gain momentum in 2012, which means the skills and role changes are more pressing than ever.

Trend No. 1: Information over process

Competitive advantage from information technology will increasingly come from information management and analytics. Indeed, 2011 marked the first time that new project budgets devoted to information management outstripped budgets devoted to process automation projects such as ERP. At CEB, our budget projections suggest the gap in corporate IT departments will widen in 2012.

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The shift in emphasis from process automation to information management and analytics will require new IT roles. There will be more demand for information architects to structure and manage an organization’s data assets and for service managers to package information and analytics as a service. CIOs will need to cultivate what CEB has identified as information insight enablers, a role that combines deep knowledge of the underlying data with business knowledge to help information users derive meaningful insight.

The skills required to understand information needs are different from the skills required to scope out process automation. Business analysts will need a deeper understanding of how knowledge workers collect and use information, make decisions and collaborate.

This insight must be gathered proactively, outside the confines of a specific project and will require anthropological and ethnographic skills and observational techniques that are more common in marketing or product development than in IT. As information volumes rise, the importance of making information usable also increases, so we expect more demand for user interface designers and other roles related to the user experience.

Six corporate IT roles that should by on every CIO’s radar

  1. Information architect
  2. Information insight enabler
  3. Service manager
  4. Service architect
  5. Service performance manager
  6. Business liaison

The information-over-process trend also has skills implications outside IT. CEB estimates that less than 40% of knowledge workers have the skills and judgment necessary to make decisions effectively using data and analytics. While CIOs cannot solve this challenge alone, they can collaborate with other senior leaders to develop analytical skills training, build a culture of collaborative decision making and provide coaching to help employees avoid blind reliance on questionable data.

Trend No. 2: IT embedded in business services

There is a clear move toward end-to-end IT services as 65% of CIOs plan to offer at least some end-to-end IT services by the end of 2012. An end-to-end IT service packages all the technologies, processes and resources from across IT needed to deliver a specific business outcome. Done correctly, end-to-end IT services give business partners a simple and responsive way to interact with IT while ensuring delivery remains scalable.

We believe four trends are reshaping the way corporate IT operates and creates value."

Andrew Horne, managing director, CEB

The inability to find enough service managers is often the rate-limiting factor in the transition. CEB recently analyzed the skill sets of effective service managers and found 10 key skills across the categories of business management, technology management and relationship management. Three skills topped the list in terms of impact -- communications and change leadership, strategy development and business relationship management. Unfortunately, those same three skills are the least mature. Financial management skills will also become more important but, arguably, are easier to develop.

Because good service managers are hard to find, progressive organizations are creating other roles to spread the load. For example, service architects and service performance managers can handle technical and performance reporting tasks, leaving service managers to focus on service strategy and relationship management.

To learn the third and fourth trends that are reshaping corporate IT, read part two of Horne's discussion, "Adapting corporate IT roles to enterprise use of cloud and BYOD."

Andrew Horne is managing director at CEB's information technology practice.

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