Change in the IT industry is a given, it’s what often defines our sector and can help those that embrace new technologies grow quicker, become more efficient, more nimble and ultimately more profitable. Now, in reality, that’s not always the case and the more cynical amongst you will argue that it’s a great reason for manufacturers to sell you the latest shiny gadget or technology that you can’t live without (but you don’t yet know it!). However you look at it, change is key and creates or breaks suppliers and vendors in the IT world.
Most will agree that there are some new cold winds blowing through our beloved IT industry and, in my view, the accelerated changes in the last few years have altered the industry more so than at any other period that I have seen. These fundamental, tectonic shifts have seen new IT cloud giants emerge to challenge and disrupt the old guard and embattled incumbents. I talk about this subject daily with clients, colleagues and suppliers and regularly advise on the growth of the public cloud providers such as Amazon, Azure and Google.
However, one of the more interesting but often overlooked transformations I have witnessed in the last ten years is the changing profile of the IT Manager - who they are, how they think, the skills they have and the way they now go about doing their job and conducting themselves within an organisation. IT Managers have always been a core component in the success (and occasional failures!) of a fast-growing and dynamic business but nowadays they are equally comfortable pitching DevOps investment at a Board meeting as they are racking a server in a Data Centre.
Perhaps it’s just me, but the people I meet and interact with are typically smarter, more confident and more assertive. They are better able to lobby, build support and write a business case in an organisation to get the investment they need and deliver a strategy to take a business in the right direction. They are not scared to challenge the status quo, turn it on its head and find a new, better way of doing things. Perhaps they have more support in a business these days as most CEO’s now recognise the importance of their role and of them as a contributing factor to company success but I can definitely detect a different style, character, ability and acquired sharpness.
Less talk of hardware (although everyone always loves to play with servers and a new shiny SAN), less of desktops and networks and much more focus on applications, managing suppliers and partners, business acumen and a hands-on software development function. IT Managers and CIO’s I speak to have increasingly come through a Developer route to management and know how to optimise, run and write code, often leading an Agile team of Dev and Application specialists that enable the business to operate and grow faster. This is the shift - focus on applications and services that deliver business performance and less on platform infrastructure and end client devices i.e. removing the burden of infrastructure operation and capacity management by outsourcing and/or utilising public cloud hyperscalers.
The evolution of the IT manager will certainly continue and, in my opinion, evolve quicker. It will be fascinating to see what an IT Manager looks like in ten years time, how their role has changed and what profile they have in a business operating in the post-cloud world order.
The Top Trump graphic above provided by my talented Meetupcall colleagues depicts a great visual summary of the changes that I think have taken place to date.