IT is under threat AGAIN. In the 1980s it was the threat of the Personal Computer. Ordinary office workers discovered a way to process their information that didn’t involve waiting for the availability of the IT (or then DP) department. Today’s “threat” is far more pervasive. PCs, laptops, iPads, Smart Phones, the Internet, Social Networking, Software as a Service (SAAS), Storage as a Service, etc. all make the availability of information and information processing fully accessible to “ordinary” office workers. Leaving IT with the headache of “control” and “security”.
Perhaps it’s time to rethink all of this. Perhaps it’s time for IT to realise that they are not the owners of information and information processing. Difficult I know, but maybe we need to consider this. Perhaps this SHOULD actually be in the hands of the people who need and use the information. Perhaps the “role” of IT is changing – and changing dramatically both now and into the future. A sea-change if you will.
We are only at the beginning of this new era of computing. We’ve been saying for years that IT will change when the current generation of kids gets into the workplace. Well, guess what – they’re starting to arrive. But this is only the “first wave” of the new techno-savvy generation. As each year’s new job entrants enter the workplace, they will continue to be even more savvy, and even more demanding of managing their own information – and capable of doing it. There will be more “tools” available to them – tools way beyond the “control” of IT as we know it today.
As I see it, we will need three different kinds of IT people in the future. We need the “traditional” technical skills that know and understand hardware and software, when and how to create, install, optimise, run, secure, and support it. We will need “application” skills. Skills that optimise business processes and drive business performance through “computerised” applications.
But the new skills that we need are around the management and security of an organisation’s information – and this is going to be a core, generic skill required in every organisation. We need to make information readily accessible to those that need it via a variety of applications and devices, most of which will not be under the “control” of IT. We need to be able to manage the flow of information and it’s security on and through these devices. We need to manage the security of the organisation’s information, make sure that it is used correctly, appropriately, and with integrity.
This is obviously not just an IT problem – it is also an HR problem. This is a new, and, from an organisational viewpoint, a much more dangerous issue relating to integrity, values and attitude. Management and HR are going to have to work much harder together to create the environment that attracts, engages and retains people with the skills needed to perform, and also the skills needed to manage and protect the organisation’s information.
My money for “job of the future” goes to “Information Management”.
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