SAP Watch

Apr 11 2008   10:58AM GMT

The end of IT

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

Everyone knows about the bottom-up pressure on in-house IT — namely, that IT outsourcing has made it cheaper and more efficient to move basic functions such as maintenance and testing outside the four walls of the enterprise. After ten years, this can’t be called a trend anymore; for enterprises, it’s now a best practice to move tactical in-house IT employees elsewhere, whether to an IT outsourcing partner or to a captive center offshore. After all, most enterprises are not in the IT business, and especially not in the tactical IT business.

There are plenty of signs that there is top-down pressure on in-house IT as well. In three separate conversations — with consultancy Sapient, and with SAP executives Zia Yusuf and Richard Probst — we’ve heard that the top tier of IT discipline is going to be changing is well. This isn’t just an abstract notion; SAP and its partners are engineering real products in such a way as to change the discipline.

The change afoot is that higher-level IT people will have to gain increasing knowledge of business processes. To put it another way, t he business-IT war is over and business won. From now on, IT will have to speak the language of business.

SAP’s products are taking on a process-centric hue, with workflows, continuous refinement, drag-and-drop modeling, and other aspects of business process management. No matter how abstruse the technology at the core of these products, they speak business language and are designed to be usable by process experts, not coders.

As cyberpunk author William Gibson famously said, the future is already here, but it isn’t widely distributed yet. When we talk to people who used to refer to ‘IT departments,’ we are beginning to hear about ‘centers of business enablement,’ ‘process competence,’ and the like instead.

To IT people: learn your code, but remember that you have to learn the language of business processes. The old-style IT department is dead.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor

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