by Thomas Wailgum

IT in 2020: Will It Even Exist?

Jan 12, 2011
IT Leadership

Dear IT leaders: You're used to expecting the unexpected, but a Forrester report questions if IT will survive to 2020.

On this day when the “Snowpacolypse” is bearing down on New England, I’m reminded of a popular Yankee euphemism that goes something like this: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a second, because it’s bound to change.”

The saying is apt for those tasked with managing corporate technology today: Change is such a near constant in IT circles that it needs to be planned for and accepted without much hesitation or belly-aching. CIOs and their staffs almost have to expect the unexpected.

And just when you might have things figured out, well, guess what: Things will change again.

A brand-new report from Forrester Research illustrates the point. The title: “IT’s Future in the Empowered Era: Sweeping Changes in the Business Landscape Will Topple the IT Status Quo.”

The question that lingers throughout the report is whether corporate IT, as we know it today, will even exist in 2020.

Three forces are bearing down on IT and will likely have long-lasting ramifications, according to the report by analysts Alex Cullen and James Staten.

The three trends include: Business-ready, self-service technology (including cloud and SaaS adoption); empowered, tech-savvy employees who don’t think they need corporate IT; and a “radically more complex business environment,” notes the report.

“Huge changes in the business landscape will up the ante for speed and agility,” write Cullen and Staten. “The IT status quo will collapse under these forces, and a new model–empowered BT [business technology]–will take its place. Today’s IT and business leaders should prepare by rethinking the role the IT department plays and how technology staff engage the business, shifting from controlling to teaching and guiding.”

Change is coming, CIOs. Will you be ready?

[After more than 14 years at CIO magazine and, I am leaving for a new opportunity. Thanks to all of you who have read my blog, engaged with me and provided great fodder for the Enterprise Software Unplugged blog.]