The shift from in-house applications to packages, and the growing number of external service providers in the typical IT mix, have created one major shift in IT careers over the past twenty years.
Going into the 1990s, we were heavy on developers, testers, and operations specialists. Going into the 2010s, we’d shifted to have concentrations of architects, process analysts, relationship managers and vendor managers.
Yes, we still have solutions teams — but their work has changed.
What are we going to see going into the 2030s, twenty years from now?
Many More Information Resources
Information managers, information architects, knowledge designers, graphical representers, digital curators, search specialists … these are already starting to filter into most organizations, but they will be a significant part of what internal IT is all about as the next two decades unfold.
We’ll spend less overall on process analysis and design, and more on “just in time” useful information, things that can accelerate new products and services, turn data into something that earns a living for the enterprise, and goes further to empower the workforce.
That enterprise workforce, in turn, will be smaller — demographics make this obvious. Since we’ll still be digging the world out of its current economic woes twenty years from now, the combination of fewer available people to work and cost pressures will flatten the management stack and require more independent action by individual employees.
IT will be the key enabler for that. It may build it out of software-as-a-service solutions and external big data sources and deploy it to a wide array of device types, but the people in the rest of the enterprise won’t be information experts.
That’s the transition of internal IT from leading with the “T” of technology to leading with the “I” of information.
IT people following deeply technical tracks, in turn, will probably concentrate more in the vendor world, be that at an outsourcing firm, or a systems integration firm, a product start up, or in a cloud supplier.
There, the “T” of IT is the business. Meanwhile, in the enterprise world, it’ll be the “I” that is considered the heart of the business.
Enterprise architects will actually be enterprise assets — not IT solution purveyors. They’ll be focused on work, the various types of it, how to integrate these, what the information flows are to be nimble and opportunistic as a firm. Demands for IT solutions, components and sources will fall out of that.
Project management, likewise, will finish its migration to being an enterprise asset. All over the enterprise, there’ll be projects, again a blend of business change and IT requirements.
It’s a world where IT doesn’t find, deploy and run “systems” — but where what information and technology can do is deeply embedded in everyday life throughout all the arms of the enterprise.
The biggest two changes of all? We’ll probably start to select managers because they genuinely want to manage people, and create parallel “technical/knowledge worker” tracks for those who don’t. With a flattened hierarchy, every manager will need to be selected because management is what they want to do. (Giving up highly skilled thinkers to turn them into unwilling managers will finally be seen as wasteful, too.)
The other big change is that the typical enterprise IT career will move back and forth between the business and the IT units.
It promises to be an exciting time.