Examining IT's identity crisis

* How IT is perceived

It's important for leaders to consider not just how IT is perceived by end users and clients, but how the field is perceived by those who work in it. And the news may not be good. Network World examines the issue of IT's identity crisis in a feature article this week by Paul Desmond.

According to his findings, some say the glory days of IT are over, but others believe the profession's best days are ahead.

Outsourcing, automation, regulatory compliance, ITIL and a shift in demand for business skills rather than specialization don't bode well for the industry. There are fewer students pursuing computer science to fill the pipeline and many in the field are looking for the exit doors. Take Don Dargel, a systems administrator who wants out so badly that he plans to join the National Guard to fund his education. Dargel says automation has shifted his role from a "command prompt commando" to "a monkey just responding to lights."

But for every Dargel, there are those who find their roles rewarding and fulfilling. Chris Ferrari, a systems engineer, works for a pharmaceutical firm that understands IT's importance to the business. And Douglas Schwinn, a CIO at toymaker Hasbro, has a seat at the table.

The experts say one beneficial byproduct of automation and outsourcing is that it allows IT to take on more exciting work than day-to-day maintenance. They recommend overcoming an image problem by marketing your organization and offering IT staff technical and business training.

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