Since starting this blog, I’ve made IT organizations and the issues of driving to higher Business-IT Maturity the central theme (aside a couple of self-indulgent detours into the world of Rock and Roll!) Even the blog’s title – IT Organization Circa 2017 – is meant to define my scope – what IT organizations will look like in 9 years time.
I realized from day one that I had set up something of a paradox for myself with the blog’s naming. You see, I’m not sure that we will have IT organizations by 2017 in the sense we know them and label them today. If you think about (those who are old enough to remember) Data Processing departments of old, they are a far cry from today’s IT organizations. It’s not just a new label – today’s CIO has a far greater reach and range than did most Data Processing Managers back in the 1960′s.
I don’t believe there’s a simple, linear path going on here – you can’t look back at the shift from DP department to IT organization and extrapolate linearly to describe what this thing will look like in 2017. But this notion of ‘reach and range’ does provide some clues. Another clue lies in my prior discussions about ‘business-IT convergence’ and the application of what Alvin Toffler in his The Third Wave called “prosumerism“ - the healing of an unnatural breach between producer (in this case, the IT organization and its professional staff) and consumer (in this case all the business folk who use and benefit from information technology).
Today, some of the more progressive enterprises (at least in terms of their approach to IT) already have CIO’s and the organizations they lead taking much broader responsibility than just IT. Typical examples I see where the leader of the IT organization (I won’t say CIO, as that is only one of the hats they wear) has broader responsibilities include:
Leader of a major business process – often Supply Chain, but I’ve also seen Business Innovation as a process “owned” by the CIO
Global shared services (may include procurement, facilities, HR, finance back office, legal, marketing and/or public relations, etc.)
Of course, there is another side to this. Most progressive enterprises already have a hybrid (part centralized, part decentralized) IT operating model. The decentralized part – typically responsible for opportunity discovery, solution delivery and solution support for things that are specific to a given business unit, while the centralized part typically has IT operations, enterprise architecture, IT portfolio management, common systems (e.g., ERP, CRM) and some form of Project or Program Management Office, aimed at ensuring common project/program practices across the decentralized and centralized units.
So, in the more progressive enterprises, we see IT leaders owning both more than IT (e.g., supply chain, shared services, innovation) and less than IT (e.g., major decentralized IT capabilities owned by business leadership). I see these as examples of business-IT convergence. Stick around – I believe this trend will continue.