Friday, August 2, 2013

IT vs I&T

I think it's time to change our name from "Information Technology" to "Information AND Technology".

It's a simple matter of reflecting what we're becoming and what we'll be expected to do in the future. I was chatting with a colleague who is working on becoming a newly minted systems/network admin when we both recognized that sys admins and network admins are a dying breed. That's not for lack of admins: shake any organizational tree and a dozen or more spare sys/net admins will fall out. The fact of the matter is that outsourcing continues tp dramatically reduce the need for admins. Cloud-based services are quickly moving infrastructure and systems far away from the business and the few systems that remain in-house can easily be assigned to a managed services provider (Started by a sys admin who was fired before you. Wink, wink!).

The same goes for generalist technicians across the board. Their positions are expensive and outside vendors are pounding on the gates offering to do the job from dramatically less money. Technicians have long-ago become a commodity and their employment has been buoyed by business' inability to change course quickly.

Going back to the conversation with my colleague: What was the solution for those of us in the endangered systems/network admin game? Information!

IT has a special place in business. We're often one of the few business units that spans the entire organization. Everything we do affects every team in the business. Many times the only other department with this kind of reach is facilities/janitorial. IT is often inward-facing and serves only the organization and, as because of this, we have a unique perspective that allows us to see the bigger picture. IT knows what everyone is doing and how they're doing it. IT knows the goals, the directives, the strategies, and the methods being used to achieve all these things. IT also has all the data.

It's time for IT to break up the melding of Information and Technology. Technology is the stuff, the gadgets. The business doesn't need gadgets (except when they do), what it really needs is Information. An I&T department would put its focus on Information and less on Technology. Someone has to shepherd the gadgets and gewgaws. Information, the life-blood of business, is where the real effort belongs - Process, information delivery, integration, standardization, automation, etc.

The old joke among admins, "Go away or I will replace you with a very small shell script" is coming true but at our own expense. It's time to evolve our careers, leave IT, and create the I&T Department.