As the internet became established as a tool of commerce and industry over the past 15 years or so, IT departments fit new titles of web developer, user experience designer, and network security engineer into their existing department structure along with the many programmers, systems analysts, and technical gurus needed to keep systems running and serve the enterprise.

Now along comes the cloud and IT departments are beginning to realize they may not need so much of these skills, but are going to need more of the skills associated with contract, vendor, and customer relationship management.  While this won’t be news to IT departments that were stricken with the outsourcing bug a few years ago, everyone else is going to be scrambling to find the right people and figuring out to whom they should report.

For sure, the hype on cloud services is high, but I predict that 2013 will be the year it hits the “knee in the curve” and really takes off.  IT management will be reorganizing to deal with cloud services, increasing the number of “relationship managers” of all types and, as those involved in the previous outsourcing frenzy will tell you,  it won’t be by retraining programmers.

[Editor's Note: This post is part of the annual "Cutter Predicts ..." series.]

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Jerry Grochow

Dr. Jerrold M. Grochow is a Senior Consultant with Cutter Consortium's Business Technology Strategies and Government & Public Sector practices. He is an innovator in the areas of strategic and tactical technology planning, operational effectiveness and risk assessment, and general IT management.

Discussion

  2 Responses to “Restructuring the IT Department and its Skills”

  1. Do I detect some hostility to programmers? IT needs more relationship managers?!? Really??

    Let’s apply some of this thinking to health care: The Dr/NP/nurse can’t see you at the moment, but we’d like you to talk to the relationship manager. Or education: The teacher/professor can’t see you at the moment, but we’d like you to talk to the relationship manager. Or perhaps, the service department at the local auto dealer…

    Sadly, relationship managers seem to be a symptom of dysfunction – when there aren’t enough competent people to do the real work, someone is needed who can calm the anger stemming from missed expectations.

    Consider the apocryphal quote “at some point in the proceedings, someone competent has to write some damn code.”

    IT must stop intermediating itself with placeholders who don’t do real work. Maybe 2013 will be there year…

  2. Dear Angry Dude –

    No, hostility is not part of my post. Perhaps I should have been clearer that my post is about the needs of IT departments as they move more and more to using systems in the cloud. Yes, programmers employed by “software as a service” vendors will still be writing code – so that end-user organizations won’t have to. When hundreds or thousands of organizations are using the same software system via the cloud rather than writing their own code (even just modifying software packages), the total number of programming jobs is going to decline. And, at the same time, more people are going to be needed to make sure that SaaS really fulfills its promise – people who can manage relationships with vendors and help end-users get maximum value from using systems in the cloud – without doing a lot of programming.

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