Todd Larson, CIO, Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group
In the past several years the typical IT service delivery model has been undergoing a slow and steady makeover. Look at infrastructure as an example of this transformation. Just a few years ago, IT’s approach to setting up a world class infrastructure meant massive capital investment in data centers, networking, and storage and compute gear. These environments can now be hosted and setup as a service. Infrastructure shouldn’t be an exercise in rolling a boulder up a hill because you can.
This basic transformation to cloud or computing via services has in turn, forced IT teams to look internally and contemplate the new skill sets they need to support the business. Where you were once worried about optimizing storage arrays you are now managing a vendor who does this for you. You are less concerned with being able to fix something and more concerned with the SLA you have with vendors to accomplish the same thing. Science can be an aimless blade at times and we, the purveyors of technology, can also be its victims. With change comes opportunity and who knows that better than technologists.
As technologists, we are breed on a steady diet of change. Learning is in our DNA and what we have to do to stay relevant. Evolve or devolve. Or as Red said to Andy in the Shawshank Redemption,” Get busy living or get busy dying”. Dramatics aside, it is our ability to change, create, destroy and recreate which makes us effective at our jobs. Technologists have to embrace the movement of the tide a bit and come up with ways to better service our businesses even as the service delivery models are changing under our feet. The infrastructure team of tomorrow may be filled with technologists with the words vendor or cloud somewhere in their title. And the super geek folks who can not embrace this will have to go work at Amazon or Rackspace.
Technologists and the business men have to find ways to put old assumptions aside and solve complex issues as members of the same team
We have seen this slow and steady transformation in infrastructure for sure. It’s happening on the application development and support side of IT as well. Developers are becoming toolset experts and techies that specialize in Business Intelligence are emerging as MVPs to the business. What is happening is not as key as it is to understand why.
Technologists And The Business Men Have To Find Ways To Put Old Assumptions Aside And Solve Complex Issues As Members Of The Same Team
The business values two things-information and the people that can get it for them. BI is a space that is evolving rapidly and you are seeing lots of IT people migrate towards it. You are also seeing savvy business people flock to its shores given the power of the analytics it provides. So what is really happening here? IT is “going native”. Technologists are evolving into business people. We have to know the workflows, the key data elements, the sales channels and the mind of our business partners to deliver value using BI. IT is becoming business savvy in a way that is unprecedented and we are enjoying the experience of seeing the value of our work in action.
Business people are also stepping out of traditional roles more. They are putting down their spreadsheets and understanding data, its structures and how it gets processed and normalized. They have to do this to acquire the power of their own analytics. Business people are actively at the table building dashboards and client portals to enable the power of technology.
So then in turn…What does the application development and systems support of tomorrow lookalike? It’s less clear than the infrastructure side but the pattern is the same. Tools and access to data are paramount concerns. If we structure delivery models around this premise we should see hybrid teams of business technology folks solving problems with analytic tools. Developers can still build UIs and the backend but the focus is BI and business data consumption. Staffing has to reflect that need. Technologists and business folks have to embrace the Kum Bai Ya moment here and find ways to put old assumptions aside and solve complex issues as members of the same team.
Technology is a disruptive force. As an IT person it’s easy to say and hard to practice. We should spend less time worrying about “Who moved my Cheese?” and more contemplating “do I even like cheese?” Ultimately, the so called “IT” staffing models of tomorrow need to embrace the notion that technology is as much part of the business today as it is part of information services today and in the future.