As the consumerization of IT and self-service trends gain momentum, IT shops are being restructured and IT professionals are learning to play new roles.
"The business itself will be the IT department. [The techie] will simply be the enabler," said Brandon Porco, chief technologist and solutions architect at Northrop Grumman.
Porco was part of a four-person panel of IT professionals who answered audience questions during a town hall meeting at this month's CITE Conference and Expo in San Francisco.
A common concern was how to address a growing generation gap in the user community, where younger people and veteran employees are comfortable with different technologies.
"Interns coming in for the summer are asked if they're familiar with Google Apps. They say, 'Of course we are,'" said Nathan McBride, vice president of IT and chief cloud architect at AMAG Pharmaceuticals. "Then we have other employees coming in [from] other companies who say, 'I need Outlook.' We have to say we don't use that anymore."
McBride said 75 of the Fortune 100 and most Ivy League schools now use Google Apps, meaning that the next generation of workers won't be users of Microsoft Exchange or Office.
Kathleen Schaub, an analyst at research firm IDC, said it's now common for a corporate IT shop to fall under the auspices of a specific business unit. "The premise is that wherever IT sits in an organization will dictate what they care about," she said. "If they're in finance, they'll care about cost-cutting. If they're in operations, they'll care about process management. If [the company] decides it wants to focus on the customer, they'll put it in marketing."
The CIO position will likely remain, said Porco, but that role will morph into one of a technology forecaster and strategist, rather than a technology implementer.
This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.