IT, as we know and define it today, will be extinct in the next decade.
If you take offense to this prediction, allow me to explain. For starters, my heritage and degree are rooted in the IT discipline, so this most certainly isn’t a personal affront. I see great continuing value for the IT professional, as well as the expertise and capabilities that they possess. Rather, I firmly believe that the shelf life for the culture and discipline of traditional IT is nearing expiration.
Rise of the IT Service Broker
In fact, astute IT leaders have already started positioning their teams and the organizations they serve for the future, by evolving IT from technology curators and configurators to business owners and service providers. This new world of IT should excite you. It means that IT becomes a business within a business, moving IT from a cost center to a powerful driver of business output, innovation, and growth.
Organizations that are positioned for this change will be more competitive and more agile. It is time to embrace this new reality and position yourself and your organization for the rise of the IT service broker.
Built on the Foundation of Cost Transparency
In the future, IT leaders and organizations will transform from traditional technology service providers into flexible service brokers. What’s the difference? The latter implies that you need to be adept at navigating the sea of technology choices, and importantly, understanding the cost implications (both near term and long term) of acquiring and supporting those technologies for your business.
To do this effectively, new skills and tools are needed in your service portfolio. You will need to understand with accuracy and detail your costs, the quality output related to those costs, and ultimately the value and outcomes you intend to deliver. This is the only way to be successful in this new world.
You’ll also need to leverage this information to be a proactive and strategic advisor of IT services. You'll need to communicate technology options to your business stakeholders and how service options will support their business objectives and outcomes. Also, your portfolio will need to include internally delivered services and offerings alongside technology providers outside of the corporate firewall.
Brokers act as architects, strategists, and integrators across the range of available technology services and options. They serve as technology investment ”Sherpas” for business leaders, helping them select and manage a set of services that effectively meet business requirements while minimizing cost.
Competing with External Providers
IT leaders must recognize that when they operate as brokers, they are entering a competitive marketplace consisting of unlimited options and providers of service – all of which endeavor to establish direct relationships with business units.
To be effective, you must recognize that your internal clients expect the same level of agility and transparency (and more) that they would receive from an external provider. This means that internal IT-delivered technology and support must be competitive in terms of cost and quality output. A true service broker will unbiasedly present technology options if they are rooted in full transparency of cost and quality tradeoffs between each.
Bringing Value to the Business
Let’s not forget the end game. The new face of IT is ultimately making this transition to a service brokerage model to gain natural alignment of interests with their business partners (“alignment” here means shared outcomes). IT leaders that make the shift to IT service broker will become true business leaders – serving as their organization’s trusted technology partner. Business unit leaders are struggling to make informed decisions and are in desperate need of IT service broker expertise and counsel.
Cost visibility is the single most important success factor for IT organizations operating in this new world of technology business management.