Gartner recently released its predictions for 2012, and in them the analyst firm latches on to a topic that has become a favorite here at Cloudline: the cloud-induced shift in enterprise IT from a traditional “procure, provision, and maintain” model to what I’ve called a more “maker”-centric model. ZDNET’s Joe McKendrick has more color on this aspect of the report, and it gives context to the aforementioned posts. The key takeaway is that, thanks to the cloud, IT spending is increasingly no longer under the control of the IT department, so CIOs are going to find their roles and responsibilities greatly diminished (if not eliminated entirely) unless they can radically change everything about the IT function’s relationship to the enterprise.
McKendrick points out that Gartner is predicting that in 2012, 35 percent of enterprise IT spending will happen outside of the IT department’s budget. Where have we seen this notion before? A sizable yet unknown percentage of cloud spending is already happening outside of IT’s control, and in fact my only criticism of the Gartner projection is that it may be impossible for anyone to know when we’ve hit this 35 percent mark. So much of cloud spending happens under-the-radar and is tucked away in different departments’ budgets, so even when companies pass that milestone they’re not likely to be aware of it.
Even more importantly, the prediction that the majority of a company’s IT spend will take place via budgets that aren’t managed or influenced by central IT in any way undermines the very rationale for having the IT function walled off in a separate department in the first place. What is “IT” doing, if it’s not managing most or all of a company’s IT budget?
This leads us to Gartner’s prediction for what IT will be left with in this new world, which is the same as my prediction, i.e., that IT departments will either be populated by developers who create, deploy, and maintain in-house software and services for an internal user base, or they will cease to exist. As McKendrick puts it, IT will provide custom line-of-business applications that are developed under the direction of managers from outside of IT. In other words, the enterprise IT department becomes a pool of developer talent that other parts of the businesses contract with for specific projects.
I would take this a step further and say that IT will just be one of many possible sources of development talent that departments can use, and in may instances internal IT will compete with outside contractors for specific jobs.
As decentralized as IT gets, someone is still going need visibility over the total spend, because there are a lot of places where effort and resources can get duplicated and/or wasted if no one is watching the big picture. But this role more of an audit and reporting role, the function of which is to give guidance to individual department heads on ways to improve efficiency through cooperation and consolidation.
Incidentally, one of the big benefits of the decentralization of IT within the enterprise is that it will at long last truly make security everyone’s responsibility. When the marketing department has a bigger IT budget than the IT department, it will be the case that the marketing department has that much more responsibility for enterprise security. It won’t necessarily be IT’s fault if marketing didn’t do due diligence on a cloud provider and ended up losing sensitive data to hackers, because IT wasn’t involved in that relationship.
Given the above, if I could add a prediction Gartner’s list, it would be that 2012 is the year that enterprise security becomes everybody’s business, because the buck will stop in many more places than just the CIO’s desk.