What Is the Role of IT in the Future and What Does It Mean for Your Business

The Role of IT is Changing

Yes, the role of IT is changing for many, if not most businesses. The shift to the cloud has left many businesses in flux when it comes to IT. Traditionally, you needed someone around to look after all of the different pieces of hardware and software that kept your business up and running. But now, with business cloud services and the growth of Everything as a Service (XaaS), it can be easy for organizations to eye IT when they’re looking to make cuts and save money.

The truth, however, is that most of these organizations need to rethink IT and how those roles can transition into a new framework. As we look at more and more platforms to handle our day-to-day tasks, we need to keep in mind what’s mission-critical to our businesses.

That could be compliance with regulations specific to your industry, or it could be as simple as how different platforms interact and share information. No matter what, you need to make sure you have someone expressly looking out for your business and ensuring that the technology you use is serving your best interests.

Here’s how you can rethink IT for your small business.

The Cloud Keeps Growing, Changing IT Support Roles

Salesforce, a leading cloud application in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) industry, projects that cloud computing will hit $158 billion in annual revenue by 2020, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent. That growth is expected to continue into 2022 and beyond.

What that means for business is that we can expect more tools and data to live in the cloud than ever before. For IT, specifically, there is less data living locally and more investments in cloud services to serve small business needs. While things like network security and device updates remain a priority, the amount of support for network issues and local data storage is going to continue to fall off.

The cloud has many great benefits. For one, it gives your business the resilience it needs to survive something like a natural disaster because you have the ability to access your data from anywhere.

Cloud computing means that you don’t need the same kind of hardware you might be used to supporting, and smarter AI solutions mean you can do more with less. All of this can lead some business owners and leaders to eye their IT department as an unnecessary expense, but the truth is that they need to reframe their idea of what their tech team does and why it’s important. The role of IT is evolving, not diminishing or going away. In fact, your IT team is most likely more essential to the success of your organization, than it has ever been.

XaaS Solutions and The Shift to Proactive IT Teams

One of the trickiest parts about relying on the cloud to solve everything for your business is keeping track of everything. At first, it works great. You need to do something new with your tech resources, so you sign up for a new service and get access to new tools.

The problem is that as these tools start to accumulate, it becomes difficult to coordinate them to ensure that you’re getting the best business results possible. There are many different ways that these problems manifest.

For one thing, make sure that someone is on top of the regulatory requirements for your industry and ensuring your business is in compliance. Even though you’re handing your data over to a cloud vendor, it’s important to realize that you’re not handing over your responsibility for compliance. Someone on your team needs to own those things and make sure that your XaaS solutions are on the level.

Most importantly, it can be easy to keep adding XaaS solution after solution to fill needs as they come up, without paying attention to how those platforms are working out long-term. You can find yourself subscribed to several different services with overlapping capabilities and learn that you’re not getting the most out of any of them.

Someone needs to be on top of tracking costs and determining whether or not you’re really getting the most value you can from the tools that you’re using, while at the same time looking out for more comprehensive solutions. In other words,  the role of IT needs to shift from a reactive IT approach (where you put out fires and fix things when they break) to a more proactive role.

Paying Attention to Security in a XaaS Environment

In a world where everything is a service, it’s easy to think that security is handled by your vendors. The truth is security should always be on your mind because, ultimately, your business is going to suffer if there’s a breach.

Much like compliance, someone on your team needs to own data security. That problem becomes even more important if your data is spread out across multiple platforms and services.

Part of that job will come down to how your business manages things like passwords, physical security, and network security. And part of the new role of IT will be about how well you evaluate your vendors on whether or not they can meet your security needs that should be included in the Service Level Agreement (SLA). At the end of the day, data security is a mission-critical concern, and you need to make sure that you have someone on your team who owns it.

What You Can Do Right Now About The Changing Role of IT

With more and more day-to-day tasks moving to the cloud, it’s easy to start eying your IT staff when you’re looking to make cuts and save money. But it’s generally not a wise move. Instead, rethink the role of IT for your business, and understand that the role has evolved.

You need someone who will proactively look at your business needs and seek out new solutions that will help you get your job done better. At the same time, they need to keep on top of things like compliance and data security to make sure you have your ducks in a row. Here’s how you can start thinking differently about the role of IT.

  • Look to move more resources to the cloud, but make sure that you have someone with the expertise to make smart choices.
  • Keep on top of data compliance.
  • Shift to a proactive IT mindset.
  • Center security in everything that your business does on the cloud.
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