No one can seem to agree on what IT employment will look like in the future, although just about everyone seems to agree it will look quite different than it does today. With the advent of cloud computing, IT staffers will become less involved with the creation of IT services and more involved with managing them.
As Accenture's managing director of cloud computing recently said, IT could become an "uber integrator," responsible for ensuring all the non-connected parts connect and play well together. Or IT may focus on managing supplier relationships, a role that a VP in HP's software and solutions division suggested could be called business relationship manager.
Will these services be provided in-house? The jury is still out, and the answer will certainly vary from company to company. As IT Business Edge blogger Loraine Lawson wrote earlier this year, outside providers could help fill service integration roles.
Still, internal IT staff should, in theory, enjoy an edge, since they should have an easier time understanding current customer needs, forecasting future ones and taking steps to ensure their IT architecture will support those needs. Under that scenario, an internal service desk becomes more important, not less, says consultant Rob England, author of the IT Skeptic blog and one of the sources cited in a Federal Computer Week article. One of its most important roles will be presenting a "cohesive face of information" to users. However, there will be less emphasis on specific IT services and more on general organizational services, he says.
This shift could provide a boost for the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and other IT service management methodologies. As I wrote back in March, one of ITIL's key recommendations is establishing a service catalog, which should make it easier to determine which internal services are good candidates for migration to the cloud and help ensure a smooth transition for those that are selected. Randy Steinberg, a national specialist leader at Deloitte Consulting interviewed in the Federal Computer Week piece, confirms interest in service catalogs has grown tremendously among his clients.
ITIL's emphasis on examining IT processes and how they relate to the broader business helped Procter & Gamble with its global outsourcing activities, said Sukhbir Jasuja, a former P&G project manager who went on to found ITpreneurs, which provides learning solutions for IT best practices management training. When I interviewed him in late 2009 he told me:
P&G has shown a lot of benefit, not just in cost savings, but strategic benefits in the way they have structured their IT organization. ITIL gave them a better understanding of what their business required, because they had already done the homework for the ITIL implementation. They knew their service-level requirements. They could more easily discuss that with an external vendor. They had aligned their processes worldwide. So the way the IT organization used to function and interact with the business was consistent across the whole world. That made the outsourcing significantly easier. ...