Forging the future with new expectations for roles and skills

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As nimble and innovative digital technologies transform the enterprise, IT is experiencing a seismic shift as well: The massive, centralized IT organization, with control over all things tech, is moving toward a decentralized model where shadow IT is a new norm and outside service providers are everywhere.

To increase the influence and value IT provides in this new era, a flexible IT workforce, with an across-the-board rethinking of roles and skills, must be developed to enable and support solutions across every line of business. The future of IT requires problem-solvers that combine business and technical skills to serve as the connective tissue for the entire enterprise.

For example, this flexibility will be central to implementing automation, which will include the input and impact of many outside service providers, according to Cameron Craig, manager, CIO Advisory at KPMG U.S.

“IT will need to become partners with those vendors as they build and implement AI and machine learning solutions,” he says. That means the workforce must be comfortable with fine-tuning and managing those products and algorithms to support the organization, he explains. It will also require a shift toward a more strategic management style of interacting with both internal and external customers in terms of implementing automation tools.

The result of implementing automation will, in turn, reduce the amount of time IT organizations allocate to operational activities, adds Jeoung Oh, principal, CIO Advisory at KPMG U.S. While around 65%-70% of an IT organization’s time is now allocated to operational activities, he explains, in the future that will be less than 20%, thanks to automation. “Repetitive operational tasks will go away, so we can think about freeing up workload,” he says. “We expect IT professionals to always look several steps ahead, trying to anticipate the needs of the business and determine how to leverage more technology.”

A flexible IT workforce is also necessary to serve the new, decentralized model where two-thirds of organizations see business IT, also known as shadow IT, as a new norm, according to KPMG’s 2018 CIO survey. “Our point of view is that shadow IT can be good for the business,” says Oh. “We still expect a centralized IT function to have ownership on security and architecture, but IT should be enablers for technology for specific functions such as marketing.”

The organization’s expectations for the IT workforce are also shifting due to technology, demanding a seamless user experience that focuses on increasing speed to delivery, says Craig. Flexibility in terms of being able to scale resources up or down is key: “IT leadership needs to understand what skill sets they need to buy and have permanently within the organization, as opposed to leveraging new managed services or vendors that can strategically help you scale up and down faster.” IT skill sets also need to be easily transferable, he adds, and focused on core capabilities rather than a single application or product.

In Part 2 of this blog series, stay tuned for tips on how IT organizations can rethink roles, skills and job titles to increase the flexibility of their workforce and learn to operate in today’s new market speed model.

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