Survival guide: Do's and don'ts for next-gen IT

Business IT is evolving behind your back. Here's how to head off extinction and assert a larger role

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Do: Retool, retrain, and restaff as necessary
Don't: Expect it all to happen overnight

You can't close up on Friday evening as a traditional IT shop and expect to wake up Monday as a fully operational service organization, says Patrick Gray.

"This is not something a lot of companies have done well," adds Gray. "They've said, 'Great idea, we'll outsource all this other junk and become a service organization,' but they don't factor in the fact that they need different types of workers. It's not like they're going to have to fire everyone and hire all new staff, but it's imperative employers realize it's a transition for workers and helps them make that transition, through formal or informal training."

For example, rather than developing a deep knowledge of a particular technology or discipline, IT pros will need to become familiar with a wide range of disparate services.

"You'll need staff that knows from 1 to 5 percent of a broad basket of technologies, ranging from cloud-based CRM to VoIP," he says. "They'll need to know enough to apply the right tech to the right business problem, and then kick the implementation to another party."

Management will also need to change how it measures IT's success, says Singh, whose company continually surveys its customers to gauge whether Appirio is meeting their expectations.

"Don't create an IT organization where whether you rise in the organization is based on how well you meet your budget and headcount," he says "You need to change incentives and reward people based on how well they serve the business."

As BYOD and cloud services come to dominate the tech landscape, IT pros no longer have the luxury of ending every conversation by simply saying no. Enterprises must move from an environment where tight control of technology use and cost was considered a plus, to one where IT's success is measured by the success of the company as a whole.

It's not an easy transition, says Singh, but it is inevitable.

"We're asking today's IT departments to do something unique," he says. "We want them to be cutting costs and squeezing pennies on their maintenance spend, while at the same time encouraging innovative try-fast/fail-fast business-centric initiatives instead of rolling out yet another application delivery paradigm. It's hard to run IT with two conflicting mind-sets. That's one of the things that has inhibited its evolution. But you need to become the organization of yes, and not no."

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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