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What IT Needs to Know to Not Become Irrelevant

Eric Berg

The cloud’s upending old world IT, forcing modern departments to rethink how they view themselves and their role within their business — or risk irrelevancy. Here are a few suggestions for how IT can change tack to adapt and regain influence:

Users Are Always Right

In our business, the customer is always right. In a world where the job of running servers, apps and datacenters is shifting to public cloud providers, IT’s number one task becomes working with their customers — their users. IT’s job is shifting, and an acute focus on end users has become central to the mission. IT must ensure their users can access the services they need, wherever they are working and from whatever device they’re using.

Lead, Don’t Impede, The Move to the Cloud

In the pre-cloud world, IT organizations were very focused on controlling and securing a set of well-defined physical assets, and limiting the ways their users could get access to those systems, whether they were in the office or on the road. With the cloud, that model has changed. Initial cloud adoption was distributed in nature, and IT was often not even involved in purchasing decisions. To maintain relevance, IT needs to change their definition of control, adapt to new deployment and delivery models (and new demands from ends users – remember, users are always right) and, as we say at Okta, lead, not impede, the move to the cloud.  Cloud adoption can be managed in a controlled, secure fashion. But, to escape the past, IT must jettison its old operating models and tools.

Mobile is the New PC

Gone are they days when IT could manage only the desktop PC and control how users accessed their applications and services.  Mobile is clearly here, and to stay relevant IT needs to embrace, not evade, mobile. The services your users are consuming are highly distributed, and so are your users.  They require constant access to key services, whether they’re in a hotel with a tablet, in cab with their smartphone or at  their desk. Just because users are using their own mobile devices doesn’t mean that IT can ignore mobile and focus only on the laptop. Mobility needs to be central to IT’s strategy.

Technology is Becoming a Commodity, But IT Doesn’t Have to Be

With the broad availability of core ERP, CRM, BI and financials applications as multi-tenant cloud services, the democratization of technologies previously available to only the largest companies is a reality.  As an IT organization, your ability to make a strategic difference to the business no longer stems from how well you can build, deploy and maintain these services.  But just because those technologies and delivery models are commoditizing, doesn’t mean that IT - as a function within the business - must as well.  IT needs to move beyond the bits and bytes, get closer to the business and its needs and develop a better understanding of their options across providers in the market to effectively guide the business. IT needs to become a strategic business advisor rather than a server and datacenter operations expert.

Focus on Your Organization and People

In this new era where IT’s value to the business is not about asset management and where technologies and platforms evolve rapidly, IT must ensure that the organization (and the people in it) have the necessary skill sets, culture and strategic thinking.  An IT leader’s arguably most important task is hiring the correct people and setting up the organization to better serve the business and manage external vendors.

Do you have the right people that can understand the business, translate their needs into IT requirements and then quickly find the best solution out there across a variety of vendors and options?  Can they adapt to, and even drive, change in these systems — and the business — as the competitive landscape shifts? Your people are the IT assets that matter most.