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Rigid data centres could become obsolete

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With the ever-changing technology landscape, the use of personal devices in the enterprise environment, managed and outsourced IT services and the cloud, many are asking how the internal IT department will adapt to suit the changing needs of the organisation.

Adapt IT director Gavin Halse says IT departments that have already successfully aligned their technology and services to business value, will in all probability have to continue to transform their capabilities, and by doing so will dictate their ultimate survival within the organisation.

“For most enterprises technology has become a strategic business enabler,” says Halse. “There are many measures of business value other than containing cost, including revenue growth, agility and customer relationships, and IT can play a meaningful role in each of these areas.”

He adds that, in his experience, IT departments are sometimes unfortunately perceived not for the value they deliver, but rather as a necessary cost to be reduced at every opportunity.

“Companies that perceive IT to be slow to react, expensive and offering questionable contribution to business value will look around at the technology on offer to consumers and question whether or not there is an alternative.”

Outsourcing infrastructure, platforms and business applications are becoming increasingly attractive to companies, as outsourcing can often more effectively contribute value in the form of reduced cost, better scalability for growth, increased agility, and better customer reach. In addition, certain IT enabled business processes that do not offer any real competitive advantage can in general be offered by cloud based service providers far more effectively than in-house systems.

The Gartner 2012 predictions analysis states: “The cloud offers new delivery styles and options that are industrialised in a value chain that renders on- premises IT systems and expertise as only part of the overall delivery of IT capabilities to the company. Social computing is allowing collaboration, and a shift of behavioural patterns of users and the communities in which they work. Mobility offers new access channels to applications and data, and at the same time provides end users with a wide variety of device choices. Users expect to get access to personal, work, business applications and data from any device, anytime and anywhere.”

Halse says the skills needed to ensure IT departments continue to add value in a world dominated by mobility and real time business decision making are rapidly changing. Traditional IT departments that fail to up-skill themselves and embrace the new technologies will become obsolete in a short time.

Businesses will increasingly outsource IT to providers who are trusted advisers that show that they understand their business intimately, can differentiate strategic IT enablers from commodity services and can at the same time keep pace with the new technologies. These trusted advisors will assist companies to find the optimum balance between in-house IT and outsourced service providers, and the balance may not necessarily favour the status quo in the existing IT department.