Most people who have held an office job are familiar with one of the following scenarios:
“The company’s server is down.”
Solution? “Call IT.”
“My computer needs an upgrade, and it won’t let me do it myself.”
Solution? “Call IT.”
“I need access to a new program.”
Solution? “Call IT.”
Given the myriad of technical issues that can befall any given organization at any given time, the IT department once filled a critical role inside a company. And you might think, with the speed and scope of technological innovation, the role of IT would have only expanded in recent years. Right?
As it’s done in so many industries, technology has changed the corporate IT function significantly. The ubiquity of software-as-a-service platforms has given any employee with an Internet connection (meaning all of them) the ability to download new systems without the approval of the IT department. Customer relationship management systems such as Salesforce and Hubspot have IT support networks built into their platforms, with experts waiting to answer any questions or solve problems. And there’s rarely a need for a company server, now that everything lives in the cloud.
As early as 2011, David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails, was hailing the end of corporate IT. “When people talk about their IT departments, they always talk about the things they’re not allowed to do, the applications they can’t run, and the long time it takes to get anything done,” he wrote. “If businesses had as many gripes with an external vendor, that vendor would’ve been dropped long ago. But IT departments have endured as a necessary evil. I think those days are coming to an end.”
That sentiment was echoed again in 2016, when the Telegraph ran an article under the headline, “Is this the end of the traditional IT department?”
“Many of the functions the traditional IT team served — deploying and maintaining in-house systems, networks and infrastructure; managing software upgrades; deciding which PCs, servers and storage boxes to invest in — are now obsolete as firms instead rely on online services, and employees choose the devices they want to work on,” the article states. “The increased awareness the average employee or executive now has about technology, coupled with the availability of cost-effective web-based systems, also means corporate technology should no longer be locked away from the end user.”
While all of that may be true, we believe it does not doom corporate IT to extinction. It may be the end of an era, but it’s also the dawning of a new one.
First, the mass adoption of external platforms and services is creating risks for businesses, giving third parties access to company data, often times without anyone’s knowledge. That’s why the practice of downloading third-party systems without the consent of corporate technology executives has been dubbed Shadow IT: Its existence is known by one or two employees and yet it’s been granted full access to your company’s back-end systems.
When there’s no corporate IT, no one is watching.
Second, while senior executives in an organization may understand how technology can enhance their performance or add to the bottom line, they may not be able to assess the overall impact to the business and its systems. When you download an application, you have to agree to certain terms and conditions, which outline what the third party will have access to. But how many marketers actually read that? How many CFOs understand the way an API integration impacts other company systems? How many CEOs want to spend their time analyzing the pros and cons of one platform over another to ensure the company gets the best value, while mitigating the most risk?
Finally, when you run a business with multiple systems across multiple departments and dozens, hundreds or thousands of employees who have access to just about all of it, you need someone to manage that, plain and simple. It’s not necessarily about staving off hackers or cyber attacks (although those are still viable threats); the business is exposed to risk every day, through the simplest of actions by the most well-meaning employees. After all, Patient Zero rarely foresees the kind of epidemic they can create.
And the key to preventing an outbreak is early detection.
Corporate IT departments still hold a valuable place in companies of all sizes, but they do have to evolve. While the need to help employees upgrade software may have long since passed, IT departments can play a vital role in mitigating the risks that come with new technologies. They can look across organizations to find areas of waste and excess, exposed data and shady systems. And they can provide the kind of comprehensive strategies that allow companies to harness the full potential of technology.
SaaSTrax can help. We built our platform to help companies manage the risks associated with technology and eliminate waste, while allowing their employees to take advantage of all the benefits cloud-based systems have to offer. We’re putting the power back in the hands of your IT leaders, for the good of your business.
Want to learn more about how we can support your company? Click here for a free trial.