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Cloud Role Playing: The Evolving IT Pro

The traditional role of IT pros is one of task-based troubleshooting: front-line employees, department heads and executives come to admins with problems they needed solved, and get placed in the queue. Issues are prioritized, scheduled, balanced, and dealt with on an as-needed basis, leaving little time for innovation and in many cases leaving “smaller” problems unsolved. But thanks to the rise of cloud computing and mobile devices, non-IT areas of companies are starting to solve their own problems, and this means a shift in the role of information technology professionals.

A Changing Landscape

According to a February 1st PC Advisor article, reporting on the 4th annual Deloitte Tech Trends Report, five key trends now affect businesses: the cloud, mobile beyond smartphones and tablets, cyber defense, social media, and analytics. None of these trends fall neatly into established IT categories and reside almost entirely off-premise, meaning the “create a ticket and wait for service” method won’t work. Big data analysis, real time social media interaction, the need to balance mobile access demands against security – all are time sensitive, and are forcing IT to adapt their methodology.
The result is an IT pro that looks more like the cloud than the server stack: agile, flexible, and fast. But while technology trends are helping to inform this change, what’s truly driving adaptation is the increasing rise of front-line employee efficacy.

The New Paradigm

A recent Cloud Tech article points out the simple truth “the biggest thing standing in the way of enterprise IT cloud adoption is IT’s unwillingness to accept that business units are already adopting the cloud.”

In a shift away from the traditional, these business units now drive tech adoption, in large part by using technology and cloud-based applications, whether IT pros want them to or not. Frustrated by problems that don’t get solved, and what they perceive as antiquated access restrictions, employees circumventing security measures – and aren’t shy about letting IT know it. Admins may be called in at the tag end of a project, but more for information than consultation; more for dictation than permission.

IT professionals, in turn, have two choices: adapt or fossilize. Those stuck in the rut of ordering instead of asking will find their departments shrinking, while those willing to evolve their role can find great success as advocates for new technology. In addition to technical skills, the next generation of IT pros must also possess an atypical tech quality: people skills. Again – just like the cloud – admins must consumerize, adapting the way they deliver service, considering other departments as customers instead of as items on a list.

The result is an IT admin willing to advise rather than admonish – and with the demise of problem queues, able to focus on forward-facing business issues like big data mining and application performance instead of simply troubleshooting technology.

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