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Future of the IT department

The latest NCC Members’ Advisory Board (MAB) in July tackled the thorny issue of the future of the IT department. With cloud computing viewed by many as a viable approach to reducing operational costs whilst maintaining service levels, will the IT department still be needed? The event was chaired by Simon Earnshaw, IT director of Dickinson Dees.

The discussion focused on the findings of the NCC Think Tank on the future skills requirements. The Think Tank brings together IT decision makers, industry figures and NCC researchers to analyse how best to address emerging issues. In December 2009 the MAB initiated a Think Tank project on the future of the IT department. (What will the value proposition of the IT department of the future be? Will an IT department still be required now that many businesses are looking to the cloud? How will IT be managed whether the solution is inhouse, outsourced or mixed economy? What skills will be required?).

The NCC’s Andy Hopkirk led the project and reported back that there is no single future for the IT department – the right balance is a consensus between the IT people and colleagues in other business functions. He identified four scenarios, or zones, which describe the potential for harmony or conflict between the expectations of the business customers and IT provisioning. In summary, he advised the IT department to work at understanding the business and to use that knowledge proactively to motivate and empower staff, to develop mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers and to develop an holistic view of the business whilst playing your role well.

The presentation provoked much debate with the consensus view that whatever model emerges for managing corporate IT, strong communication skills for those involved are absolutely vital – for IT management effectiveness in this area will be the differentiator, not just knowledge of the capability of technology.

“In particular,” Hopkirk added “it is important to establish true partnerships with suppliers. Suppliers should be brought into discussions early on, but it should be recognised that partnership success is not based on sales.”

Discussions continued mindful of the continued backdrop of cost containment and cost cutting for all and a period where we are anticipating huge cuts across Government spending and reorganisation of many public services. In particular the group addressed the issue of outsourcing.

The presentations made at the MAB and the minutes can be downloaded from www.ncc.co.uk/mab.

The next meeting will take place on the afternoon of October 7 in London. The next Think Tank, ‘Preparing for the Cloud’ will take place on the same day in the morning.

(ITadviser, Issue 63, Autumn 2010)

 

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