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What will the IT department of 2020 actually do?

If businesses really commit to cloud computing, there will be profound implications for IT. Much of the operations work that IT does today could move to cloud providers.


Faced with this scenario, I believe the most important thing the CIO of 2020 will do is have his or her people work in business teams, creating innovation and competitive edge.


"Smart things" and the back-end clouds they talk to will be developed by business units

One concept I think has tremendous significance for the future of IT is that of the “Internet of Things.” From jet engines to refrigerators to TVs and cars, objects and devices will become increasingly “smart.”


Thus, by 2020, we'll have devices with tens and hundreds of millions of lines of code in them.  Also, these smart things will "call home" - they will talk to central servers which will use the data they send to optimise systems and correlate data between different devices.


Who will create all this code?  Who will create the back-end services to talk to these devices?  It will probably be the business units of 2020, those same units who also design and manufacture the devices. 


What does this mean for central IT and the CIO?

How will cloud affect the responsibility of the CIO of 2020? What do these trends mean for central IT?


I believe that enterprises will increasingly choose to take their non-core applications like expenses and email from SaaS and BPaaS (business process as a service) providers


And I believe that while most of the dev and test environments of 2020 will be provided by cloud suppliers, production systems may not all make the leap to the cloud.


Also, as I said above, the code in "smart things" and their back-end cloud services wil probably be created by business computing teams.


So, what does the IT department of 2020 do?  I believe that ..


  • IT will create and run the core business processes like order processing and supply chain management. Creating and modifying business processes will be much faster in 2020, allowing business/IT teams to use business process change agility as a competitive advantage
  • IT will create application user interfaces that create competitive advantage. These user interfaces will run on a range of devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops and smartTVs
  • IT will also manage information and its analysis. This analysis will include not just the structured transaction information that we analyse today, but also unstructured information like that found in social media. The value will be in linking the structured to the unstructured, and from this link-up, finding new insights

However, I think that the key thing central IT will do in 2020 is it will move into the business:  that is, it will have people in the business teams, helping to create differentiation. I’ll write more on this in a future post.


Author : Mike Shaw

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About the Author
Mike has been with HP for 30 years. Half of that time was in R&D, mainly as an architect. The other 15 years has been spent in product manag...

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