I have presented my humble views on the future of the current IT job descriptions in my previous article titled “Cloud Jobs: Skyrocketing is an Understatement.” All of the job descriptions were fairly self explanatory, but one needed a complete discussion: IT/Enterprise Architects. Before giving a technical definition on it, let’s see how the cloud will create such a job description, an example from one of my enterprise clients.
The company had 4 help desk personnel (consider Level 1 support), responsible for taking the first call, resolving it if they can and passing it to the appropriate support group. A couple of months ago they have employed one more person because the company was growing and they could not manage the number of calls and the number of incidents/requests, making the help desk 5 people in total. After some time, they have analyzed the number of and type of requests and seen that about 60% of help desk’s time was about resetting user passwords. They looked for a solution and given their requirements I advised them to have a detailed look at Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager (not because I am a Microsoft fanboy, but rather the company’s strategy was shifting towards Microsoft and everything in their enterprise -operating systems, applications etc.- was somehow supported by Microsoft). After deploying Forefront Identity Manager (FIM), they found that the help desk personnel was underutilized. They thought about shifting 2 people to enterprise support (consider Level 2 support). Again after some time they have seen that the self-managing infrastructure of the cloud also underutilized their enterprise administrators. Thinking that how they can make the best out of the situation (laying off is not always the best thing, and personally I believe it is in many cases among the worst of all choices), they have created small teams (of 2 or 3 depending on the case) and had them work closely with the business side. They have analyzed processes, offered solutions, joined their budget meetings to speak about/justify their IT spendings. As a result, the business had significant cost savings, exceeding the IT personnel’s social benefits with high multipliers.
This is a perfect example of blending with change and making the most from it; yesterday’s system administrators and support technicians transformed into enterprise architects. This is also a perfect example of cloud transformation. IT is now enabling people to do more with the information technology. Users now can see what the technology under their fingers can work for them. They can now see how they can offload their trivial tasks to computers (hint: with the cloud the IT personnel offloaded their password-resetting task to computers, so they are very well aware of this issue) and think about how they can easier, better, more cost effective perform their jobs.
The business benefits? Let’s think that your enterprise is opening up a new branch office in a remote location. Would you prefer your enterprise architects’ plan on deciding what IT equipment to deploy, what processes can be better scaled, what processes need to be reevaluated or would you prefer the same ol’ approach that you had for years without any updates? On the other hand, why, as a business, would you not use the highly analytical problem solvers, who already have a working knowledge of your business? You get the idea; there are a lot of opportunities for you to think about and deploy in your organization.
Among all these opportunities, I do not say that the transition is a simple one. The IT department has to think flexible (and this should be the easy part because I see it impossible to work in IT with a rigid view) and the management has to support the transition. Then will come the period of training, learning and employing new modes of thinking, new performance/cost/benefit analyses etc.. At this point, I want to underline one thing: do not leave this transition period to your company’s Human Resources department. I have never, repeat never, seen an HR department who can really understand IT people. They have an abstract view of business (suits, ties, interviews, social benefits etc.) which has nothing to do with the IT pros (if you want me to explicitly say it, yes, traditional HR cannot manage us, the geeks). Understanding IT is impossible for them, let alone manage such a seesmic transition. Better let IT managers handle the task and let the HR to support it.