Make no mistake: 2011 represents a sea change for IT strategy. Those IT leaders who view the upward trend in IT spend as welcome relief to return to pre-recession priorities will quickly find themselves in trouble.
The simple truth is that the focus on the back office -- IT's traditional domain -- is over. Companies are tired of paying for what they view as plumbing. Any consideration in the executive suite about the back office and infrastructure is all about making do and cost-cutting. Virtualization and private clouds are investments meant to accomplish this reduction -- they're not new gold mines to enrich IT's importance.
If your back office and infrastructure don't work by now, it's game over. You'll be outsourced to India or China, domestic service providers, or the cloud. Even if they do work, owning these aspects of IT is of no importance to your company. The new reality is that the back office and infrastructure have been demoted to a sort of IT facilities function -- whether internally or externally managed and provisioned.
This includes security, for which spending patience is running out. The recession motivated companies to cut back on the cost of security; overall, the risks didn't visibly increase. That's a green light to be looser on acceptable risk. Vendors may push technologies such as DLP (data loss prevention) and SEIM (security event and information management) and warn of advanced persistent threats, but don't expect buy-in for budget.
IT must adapt to this new reality. The more executives, vendors, and analysts I talk with, the more convinced I become that new skills, new conversations, and new dilemmas are on the docket for the new year. Here is a look at what to expect and how to evolve your IT organization to meet the challenges to come.
Mobile management: Bellwether of the new IT
Last year's shift in mobile management is proof enough of this new IT reality. After all, when the director of IT infrastructure at Crédit Suisse heralds the bring-your-own-device approach to endpoint management, you see the new attitude on risk and infrastructure avoidance writ large. ("I don't care what device someone has. We want to get out of the game of managing the system for the devices," Steve Hilton told Bloomberg BusinessWeek.)