Speaking at CIO Forum event in London, analysts discussed some of the ongoing shifts which are threatening to disrupt the way that IT departments operate in future.
In front of a room of CIOs and IT decision makers from enterprises across Europe, a team of Forrester analysts, research directors Christopher Mines and Pascal Matzke, and principal analyst John C. McCarthy, discussed how the current landscape is set to evolve, setting out the predictions for 2020.
How will technology affect the enterprise?
With various aspects of technology becoming heavily commoditised, there is prospect that in the coming years IT will fade into the background and become an on-tap resource, rather than a critical competitive advantage within a business.
So will technology eventually become a non-differentiating commodity, or will it remain central to the way that businesses create their own offerings?
The Forrester view, shared by the delegate audience, is that enterprises will continue to use technology to gain a competitive advantage. However, just as a bank creates its own innovative mobile front-end systems to differentiate from competitors while running on commoditized systems, this drive for agility and greater engagement will mean a shift in focus away from internal systems, and towards the customer. This will provide the basis of a move to a world of 'software as the brand'.
"It is important to recognize that there are significant elements of enterprise technology that are commoditizing, or have already commoditized - the core infrastructure, the virtual servers, the enterprise applications, the core systems of record," said Mines. "But there is a new class of technology that is aimed at customer engagement, and aimed at the front end of the business. This is where software becomes the brand, and becomes the identity of many companies across a range of industries, retaining its differentiating value and visibility among customers and employees."
How will companies architect and deploy business technology solutions in 2020?
As enterprise IT moves towards greater automation and use of external cloud based services, the role of the IT department in provisioning and deploying applications is changing.
But will this mean that IT departments will continue to design, manage and own their applications and infrastructure, or will there be a wholesale shift to apps and processes being delivered 'as-a-service' by external business process specialists?
Again delegates largely agreed with the analyst view: "Companies will increasingly architect and deploy solutions from what we already see as a growing pool of as-a-service providers, with IT skills still being essential," Mines said. "However staff will play the role of orchestrator and integrator of those external services and service providers, rather than internally building and owning those applications themselves."
What skills and structure will the technology organization 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 organization, as consumerization 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 organization, or whether the trend will reverse to keep the IT department's centralized position in providing applications and infrastructure.