Welcome to the twenty-first century, a time in which the “do-it-yourself” mantra is both exhilarating and near impossible—at least when it comes to IT.
Now, I’m sure we have all been down the DIY road before. In fact, in my personal life I’ve built more decks, furniture, completed home renos, and so on, more times than I’d like to count. And even when it comes to technology, we’ve all probably set up home networks, run cables, installed extra power outlets, and the list goes on. So, if we can all do it at home, why not in a business setting? Simply put, complexity.
Having worked in IT my entire career, I’ve seen many amazing changes, innovations, evolutions, and even revolutions. And as each day goes by, it seems as though IT continues to change at such a rapid pace that almost no one can predict what’s coming next. And with that knowledge comes the realization that our industry as a whole is becoming incredibly verticalized.
In all honesty, I long for the days when IT people were just that—IT people. Though perhaps a little generalized, it wasn’t that long ago when those in the IT field could accomplish a lot with a good foundation in basic principles and an ability to learn and adapt quickly. However, in the past 15 years, IT people have become so highly specialized there is now no longer a place for the IT generalist—instead, that role has been replaced with highly skilled, highly educated specialists who can spend their entire career in a single, highly complex IT discipline.
So, how does that affect companies on a day-to-day basis? Simply put, the dreams of executives to drive their companies into new realms and markets can no longer be realized, they can no longer have their whims catered to in real time. Instead, thoughtful vetting and planning must go into every project, no matter how insignificant it appears—all because everything is now highly interconnected. From the smallest application integration and roll-out, the effects of the project can be massive.
And why has life become so complicated? That’s an easy one: data. With every move we make as a society, whether personal or professional, data is at the heart of everything we do. And with that data comes the inherent need of interconnectivity—the want, dare I say the visceral need, for insight and analysis at every step. And with data comes the exponential growth that now needs to be managed from far too many angles. For instance, have professionals been consulted on the planning surrounding the growth as it pertains to storage? Have separate professionals been consulted to plan for the transfer of data and all its implications—let’s not forget that our world is obsessed with speed?
Then, of course, there is the legal side of data. From storing and managing physical assets, to the virtual issues that crop up such as data sovereignty, and more. To add to the complexity, what about the decommissioning of assets, change management, planning, etc.? All these fall into one of the 1,000 easy steps of building and managing IT infrastructure, with each one having a million sub-steps that follow. And, obviously, we haven’t even got into the “behind-the-walls” IT infrastructure that pipes data through the virtual and physical world—that’s a whole separate nightmare unto itself.
So, where does that leave all the IT departments around the world? Are their futures in peril due to the complex nature of where the next century of technology is taking us? Absolutely not. In fact, everyone’s lives, jobs, careers, will continue to evolve in exciting and meaningful ways. IT departments and their experts are now poised to have real-time input and direction into projects that impact the business in every way.
From market penetration efforts, to growth, to customer service, finance, operations, and beyond—the importance of interconnectivity, as mentioned earlier, is now at the epicenter of business success. It’s for this reason that IT must concentrate on planning and managing projects, more so than on planning and managing infrastructure—meaning that the important business decisions will be made through the careful selection of input from partners and vendors who specialize in their vertical fields.
In short, IT departments are now the captains of their ships, the masters of their domains—no longer needing to get lost in the weeds of 10,000 easy steps of IT infrastructure creation.