Shift to digital business disrupts traditional IT

Ready for a change? IT pros should be prepared to rethink traditional IT roles and responsibilities this year.

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2016 is set to be a year of shifts for IT -- shuffling budget dollars, reconfiguring business processes, and recasting tech talent.

Worldwide IT spending is forecast to surpass $3.6 trillion, a gain of 1.5% compared to 2015, according to Gartner. While the spending increase is modest, the funds will enable companies to advance not-so-modest business transformations. Most organizations are in a transition to becoming digital businesses, according to Gartner, and tech pros are at the center of these changing business models that blend digital and physical worlds in order to better serve customers, drive revenue and increase productivity.

Going digital means different things for different organizations. For some companies digital transformation means changing the way they interact with partners and customers. Starwood Hotels, for example, developed a keyless entry system that allows guests to use their smartphones to unlock doors. The city of Montreal built mobile apps that show the schedule and progress of snow plows so residents can move their cars out of the way and avoid towing. For others it can mean a significant transformation of their business model. Mining and construction equipment maker Caterpillar, for example, recently teamed with analytics startup Uptake to develop predictive diagnostics tools so customers can better gauge the health of their equipment and optimize machine availability.

In practice, executing new business opportunities that span the digital and physical worlds requires organizational changes, process changes and cultural changes. Mobile, cloud, analytics and sensor technologies underpin these digital initiatives, which are leading companies to adjust their tech spending habits within IT and across the organization.

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