It was nice knowing you, you were a needed, misunderstood and much maligned part of most all organizations. You helped to answer questions about GHZ, megabytes, processors and things no one else seemed to want or could understand, you were the repair department, you made sure that things kept ticking along with as little downtime as possible but your demise came about because of your overuse of the “NO”. There’s lots of ways you told people no,
- "prove to me you need this",
- " that won’t work",
- " it will cause problems",
- " We can’t do that".
The IT department as I knew it in early days of my career are fading away, because successful companies will all become technology companies. Technology both hardware and software will be built into the DNA of all successful organizations moving forward. Delivering on the technology expectations of your customers, employees and vendors will be so central to what is done that to have one department “in charge” of that will seem asinine. Good companies will deliver great technology solutions, companies that can’t will expire.
Let me drill down on this concept a little bit more. Dominos believes it’s a technology company that delivers pizza , Disney views their CEO As the CTO, Staples “stores” are really distribution centers for their website, Starbucks has more than 15% of their sales via mobile apps, every major car manufacturer was at the consumer ELECTRONICS show. Imagine insurance companies without online sales and claims management and banks without apps to deposit checks and make balance inquires. Can the largest retailers survive without a successful online strategy? Can energy companies be competitive without large amounts of data and systems to aid them in drilling? Are media companies going to survive without fully adopting digital distribution?
Conversely, is Amazon a technology company or a store? Is uber a taxi company or a technology company? Is AirBnb a competitor to Westin or just a technology company? Is warby parker a tech company or glasses store competing with lenscrafters ? These might have at one time been considered "startups" but now they are just plain companies. They are just companies that deliver products and services with a technology layer.
Companies are still going to need developers and other technical professionals, it’s just very likely those people will exist within the business units they are helping. The people that work in these positions will still do what they do but instead of reporting to a “CIO”, “CTO” or “Director of IT”, they’ll report to the VP of Product. Blame it on the Consumerization of IT, or just the pace of change but the landscape will look different soon.
Along the way there are sure to be many failures even the companies that are best at technology fail. Amazon wrote down 170 Million on the fire phone, Google Wave, Google Buzz, and Google plus, Microsoft Zune, surface, and bing, Apple’s ping, 3D tv’s all didn’t deliver on expectations. However, failure is part of learning what people want. Failure is what companies use to build what people do want.
Only through the process of trying do we learn what people want. The telegraph wasn’t needed because London had a good messenger boys. RCA turned down the first transistor radio, the inventor of the refrigerator died without selling one. Cell phone were for the rich and why would someone need to get a hold of me anytime? Can’t they wait till I get to the office or home, there’s nothing that can’t wait that long. Email? can’t I just walk down the hall or pick up the phone? Who uses this “world wide web”, how would anyone find us, we don’t need a website, Apple won’t make a dent in the cell phone market against Nokia.
So the successful companies of the future will be quick to jettison their “IT departments”. Professionals will be embedded in business units who try and fail, who succeed and then don’t. The winning companies will deliver products and services to their customers how and when they want them in amazing ways.