Earlier this month, I shared a ComputerWorld report predicting that centralized IT could face severe staff cuts as more IT moved into the business units-a trend in part predicated on the fact that more traditional on-premise tech resources can now be delivered via the cloud.
I wrote that I saw this as yet another swing in the whole centralized versus decentralized debate that seems to plague IT every decade and suggested that, given that business units can and do invest in SaaS and cloud without consulting IT, it could mean the business units will have the final say.
Oddly enough, this wasn't really the point of my post. The point was to say integration could become IT's main job in the near future.
This post seems to have touched a nerve with readers, many of whom disagreed that IT might be headed for a swing toward decentralization.
SOA and integration specialist Akiva Marks argued that, on the contrary, the need for integration would require more centralized IT:
As the applications are decomposing, they simply CANNOT operate without the other "business unit" applications tightly interwoven. Neither their financial department nor their customer department can work without tight integration with the other. Business departments don't work independently anymore, and neither can their applications. This leads to the need for more centralized IT for integration, coordination, standards management, etc. Decentralized wouldn't be able to handle it at all!
One reader, posting under the alias "User1831020," said the "right" integration model could even be the key to stopping the swing between centralized and decentralized IT:
Key elements are to run the integration function as a value-added service-including charging business units and projects for the use of the integration services. The chargeback model has the benefit of forcing the integration team to clearly understand their customer and what they value, and to structure their service offerings to be better, faster, and cheaper than the alternatives, and to constantly improve.
The reader also suggested an integration competency center could be an important part of success with integration.
Reader and IT consultant Frank Miller also disgareed that we'd see centralized IT cut. Quite the opposite, he believes IT head counts will rise, writing:
I'm thinking that there will be significant shifts in skillsets from today's norm, but as the enterprises start seeing positive results from improved business process management (leveraging IT) and information management, they'll want more.
But when it came to the main point of the post - that integration will become a key task for IT in the future-readers agreed, and some actually gave further proof of integration's rising importance.
For instance, Darren Cunningham, the VP of marketing for Informatica Cloud, wrote a blog post of his own in response. In that post, he links to an item by Informatica colleague Chris Boorman, the chief marketing officer. Boorman looked at job growth predictions on indeed.com in eight data technology areas and found all were expected to grow by leaps and bounds, including B2B data exchange (25 percent), enterprise data integration (75 percent), master data management (150 percent) and cloud data integration, with an unbelievable 35,000 percent growth. His post links to indeed.com graphs on each of the eight areas.