Invisible IT Part 2

January 15, 2008

Timing is everything – I missed this earlier. An interview with Nicholas Carr by CIO Insight columnist Edward Cone on “Why IT Will Change”. The interview repeats the concept of computing resources moving into the “cloud” where your sharing of information, or access to information is faster, easier and more flexible by plugging into the IT utility grid.

Mr. Carr even makes the comment that he would be surprised “..if …20 years from now there are still IT departments in corporations”. This completely continues the network as the computer model model Mr. Carr and others have written about. I have not yet read Mr. Carr’s new book, but he mentions extensively businesses moving from generating their own electrical power, to simply and cheaply plugging into the electrical grid of your local utility. So he probably also mentions that when electricity (even the light bulb) were first commercialized, you needed to have on staff, an on site electrician – just to keep a new, often flaky technology up and running. Now of course, the if there is a power problem, we just call an electrician.

IT has been moving from this phase – the white jacket keepers of the IT kingdom have given way to plugging in a network jack. The next level in this “low level” IT work will be the same as calling that electrician, you only call when there is a problem.

That is not to say that the “electrician” IT worker trade will disappear, but it will be moved out of the business to the same place in the local phone directory we look for that electrician or plumber.

The business, or corporate IT worker that remains will have to become part relationship manager, part negotiator, and have a deeper understanding of the relationships among the data, the processes and the individuals that use it. As an example, as a business owner or manager, do you care what type of computer your particular tool resides on? do you care about the operating system? That should be just as invisible as the wires and boxes in your electrical closet. What you do care about is that a particular piece of customer information that is updated provides the right information, to the right people, at the right time. Regardless of where those people are, or what tool those people are using. The business IT worker will be the process expert, or data steward that makes sure that these relationships are available and met.

In my own organization, we are a small step towards that goal. I have a minimal “data center” holding our corporate applications and servers. These need to be available all the time, so I have them all hosted with a managed service provider in a massive data center that can take better and faster care of that “electrical” work than I can! – I don’t even have a clue what those machines look like!

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