The era of IT as we’ve come to know it is coming to an end. The IT department functions that have gotten us this far are now coming to an end. Keeping the company’s email systems up and running, implementing an big ERP project, and securing the corporate network from the bad guys is no longer what the company needs us to do for them. Will you and your IT department be ready for the new world?
What Is Happening to IT?
Times are changing and CIOs need to wake up and realize what is going on. The IT department used to be the sole place where anyone in the company who wanted to get an application that would help them with their job had to go. This is no longer the case.
Instead we are all now living in a world filled with tablets, app stores, and “cloud computing”. Now everyone understands the importance of information technology. What this means for your end users is that for the first time they now have the ability to get their hands on better IT technology than their IT department can provide them with. Oh yeah, and they can get their hands on it in seconds, not weeks or months.
What makes the life of the person with the CIO job even more challenging is the quality of the hardware and the software that your end users can now acquire. It’s good stuff! The software and systems that your end users are using are cheap, good looking, and very powerful. In comparison, the enterprise applications that the IT department has been providing them with now look primitive in comparison.
The new systems didn’t require a team of your IT department’s programmer’s to create, they are user customizable, and more often than not they can be built by anyone with some fairly basic computer skills. Clearly the job of the CIO is preparing to undergo some serious changes.
What Can CIOs Do In Order To Prepare For The Future?
Stop. Don’t panic. Yes, the CIO job that existed just yesterday is rapidly going away. However, I’ve got some good news for you. Technology is not leaving your company and no, it’s not all going to become so simple that a 5th grader could do it. Instead, things are changing and you need to change with them.
Every business is soon going to undergo dramatic transformations as new technologies that have been born in research labs across the globe finally reach a price point that makes them economically viable to be deployed in the factories and workplaces everywhere. Three of these transformational technologies are robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and 3D printing.
One of the most immediate impacts of these new technologies will be that a lot of manufacturing jobs that had been moved off shore will now be returning to the country where the end customers live. Robots that can work side-by-side with humans and perform assembly tasks are now available for only US$22,000.
Artificial Intelligence is finding its way into voice recognition systems and self-driving vehicles along with robots. 3D printing is being used to create physical mechanical devices. It is anticipated that by the end of the decade we’ll be seeing small-scale production of today’s labor-intensive goods via 3D printing.
What the person in the CIO position needs to understand is that these technologies are on every company’s doorstep, but the companies themselves are not ready to start to use them. This opens an opportunity for the company’s IT department. As CIO, you are in the position to have your IT department take steps today in order to master these new technologies. As the new technology arrives, the IT department can help the company design its new factory floors and both install and program its new army of manufacturing robots.
The new IT department can also play a role in helping the company to design the new inventory management systems and value change tracking systems that will be needed. Monitoring of manufacturing plants operation will be remotely performed and this is something that the IT department could setup.
What All Of This Means For You
The world of IT is changing and CIOs need to be aware of these changes and start to prepare for them. The old days in which an IT department could get away with just maintaining the company’s IT infrastructure are now gone – the company is going to want a lot more from us.
The world in which your business is preparing to operate is rapidly changing. What this means for the CIO and the IT department is that you are going to have to transform yourself in order to support the new technologies that the company is going to find itself forced to adopt. These will include robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and 3D printing. IT can play the role of consultant helping the company get started and set up to maximize the value of these new types of technology.
The bad news is that what got the IT department to where it is will no longer be required by the company. Instead, the introduction of radical new technologies is going to require that the IT department transform itself into a skilled set of consultants that are always available to support the rest of the company. The quicker that you start to convert your IT department from what it was to what it needs to be, the better the chances of both you and your IT department surviving this change will be.
Question For You: Which one of the new technologies should a CIO tackle first?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Welcome to the era of big data. Now just exactly who is going to be working on all of that data? Now that everyone knows about the importance of information technology, it turns out that it takes a very special set of IT skills to get a large data set to tell your company the story that you want to hear. The people who know how to tease that story out of the data are the data scientists. The problem that CIOs are currently facing is that they don’t have enough of this rare breed of IT worker. What can they do about that?