IT departments becoming ‘obsolete’

Cloud computing, smartphones and as-a-service software products are killing off the traditional, ‘dark days’ IT department, says printer manufacturer Brother

IT departments becoming ‘obsolete’

Online services and workers choosing the tools they want to work with, rather than employees being dictated to by in-house IT experts, means the IT department’s functions are now primarily redundant, says Japan-based Brother.

The printer maker refers to IT departments’ control over technology as “dark days” in its web-based advertorial feature in the British national newspaper the Telegraph in September.

“Does the cloud and mobile era mean we can do away with the IT department completely? To a large extent, the answer is yes,” Brother writes.

Brother is promoting its own version of as-a-service in the advertorial—it has a managed print services solution that promises to rein in printing spending for organizations through pay-for-what-you-print.

However, the company does make some interesting points.

Teams running in-house networks and infrastructure, upgrading software, and deciding what kinds of computers and equipment should be purchased is “obsolete” now, it says. “Firms instead rely on online services, and employees choose the devices they want to work on.”

Brother doesn’t mention that the employee-adoption of cloud services hit a glitch recently. Cloud security firms Elastica and Blue Coat observed in a study that employees storing documents in self-chosen cloud services, something called Shadow IT, were creating security holes. Blue Coat Systems said it even found proprietary cloud documents through Google searches in some tests.

There's no going back

The genie has clearly been let out of the bottle, though. Cloud offers convenience to workers, and because workers are increasingly tech-savvy, they don’t need—or think they need—to be told what to do by tech experts.

Brother goes one step further than acknowledging the simple allowance of employee IT interference and says technology “should no longer be locked away from the end user.”

It also says “heads of departments across the business” should make the technology decisions because they’re the ones who understand the requirements best.

IT departments perceived as irrelevant

That statement, indeed, ties in with what appears to be happening with business digitization in general: As enterprises adopt digital overall and technologize their business plans, their IT departments can be excluded from the loop—the team is not considered relevant. IT isn’t driving major companywide directional changes at the disruptive tech level—it’s the CEOs doing that. So, IT is perceived—rightly or wrongly—as being unimportant.

“Technology is now so integral to every business across all sectors that anyone in a leadership role must act as chief information officer to their team or department, as part of their everyday remit,” the printer company adds. In other words, one shouldn’t wait for IT to propose solutions.

More, somewhat amusing friction for IT is Brother’s statement that “the HR or sales director is not doing their job properly” if they don’t investigate appropriate technology.

Of course, as we all know, tech isn’t easy. Even if images of bulbous, puffy clouds and glossy deep-color screens are marketed as things that will make one’s life sublime and glorious, they probably won’t. So, the smartest IT executives, and the ones who will be in demand, will be those who go along with the employees self-chosen equipment, as-a-service and mobile dreams—and will simply pick up the pieces when it all goes horribly wrong.

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