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IT department could disappear by the end of the decade, says Forrester

Matthew Finnegan | June 17, 2013
Analysts predict life for the CIO of 2020

What skills and structure will the technology organisation of 2020 have?
Enterprises are already seeing other areas of the business outside of the IT department investing in technology, such as in sales or marketing departments. This trend is also being driven by the rapid increase in IT literacy across all areas of an organisation, as consumerisation means that all aspects of the business become tech-savvy.

Forrester asked whether this trend is set to continue into the next decade, with IT becoming embedded and to some extent invisible, throughout the organisation, or whether the trend will reverse to keep the IT department's centralised position in providing applications and infrastructure.

While the audience reached no consensus on where the future might lie, Forrester's view is that the IT function is set to become more embedded throughout the organisation.

"IT will be embedded in the marketing sales, customer service and manufacturing organisations," Mines concluded. "The skillsets are still there and used to orchestrate those external service providers, but there will be no identifiable or central IT organisation — our call is that that will be a thing of the past by 2020."

What will the supplier portfolio look like?
Cloud is already a disruptive force on the supplier market, with new vendors threatening to steal the lunch of the more longstanding IT firms. Mobile, social and analytics are also driving unprecedented change within the industry, and startups in these areas could begin to challenge the companies which became success stories of the last decade, such as Google and Salesforce. Meanwhile the likes of Capgemini and Accenture have been investing, not in services firms, but in startup companies in areas such as analytics.

So will the incumbent vendors be displaced by the crop of start-ups currently emerging, or will enterprise customers shudder at the thought of dealing with a seemingly infinite number of suppliers and services providers?

The audience voted strongly that enterprises will continue to look to the bigger names as they snap up the newcomer startups, as question marks remain over the ability of smaller suppliers with a narrow focus to support wider business development in the longer term.

However Forrester arrived at a split decision — concluding that by 2020 the answer will lie somewhere in between, with a dramatic shake up of the supplier portfolio to include both incumbents and startups.

"The makeup of the supplier portfolio will change pretty dramatically in both directions," Mines said. "We think it will become a more varied mix of the innovative start-up suppliers, as well as a reliance on the established incumbents."


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