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Info Technology Departments May Lose Staff

David Utter
Expert Author
Published: 2005-05-27

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A long-term choice for IT departments means either focusing on services or providing more business value.

As the capabilities of external service providers increase, IT departments around the globe face the prospect of losing 15 percent of their staffs unless they can prove their worth to their corporate masters.

According to a Gartner report, those IT departments have to demonstrate how they can manage processes and electronic assets in order to survive. As external firms demonstrate that they can provide the sort of support services normally offered in-house, and do so professionally and at reduced cost, businesses will start turning more to them.

Gartner describes three roles an IT department can hold in the future: Business Change Agent, IT Services Broker, or IT Utility.

The Utility describes a typical IT department that provides desktop, server, and network support. Typical corporate management view that type of service as a cost center providing no real benefit to the business. Those types of departments see the greatest chance of being reduced or eliminated.

The Broker simply manages and negotiates contracts and relationships with external service providers. Their presence in an organization would probably mean few or no IT personnel work directly for the business.

And the Change Agent appears to describe developers with management skills, those who can create a new business process and explain it to a room full of managers in a few bullet points. Gartner states this role can only be assumed if the department has credibility and a skilled staff.

The last point as described by Gartner sounds as though it will be driven more by politics; the report says IT leaders should consider their "current standing" within the organization. Essentially, existing IT management either has to convince its friends in the corporate boardroom not to eliminate their department because they can provide "value."

That will be a tough prospect, in an era of rampant cost-cutting and job elimination. Corporate leaders who see an IT department only in terms of the salary and benefit cost of its employees probably won't hesitate to go outside the firm for support.

And application development can be done by an outsider company, just like support can be.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

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