Thursday, 15 May 2008

The death of the IT department and the rise of the virtual organisation

I have just been reading and listening to Charles Black the CEO of hosted desktop company Nasstar about hosted desktops - here is a summary and some of my thoughts

Workwise UK estimate there are up to 3.5 million "telecommuters" (remote workers)

Charles Black predicts that the rise of telecommuting and hosted IT will have a radical effect on the traditional IT department and that by 2013 the traditional IT department will no longer exist. He argues that IT departments wil be freed to focus on giving companies a competitive advantage through IT - using IT for business advantage.

There is an attractive logic to hosted services especially for smaller companies who would prefer to focus on their business rather than their IT - especially with increasing complexity in IT security and continuity.

Some of the issues around moving to a hosted model:
- Network availability, speed and reliability are essential
- Local IT can be cheaper and last longer - you can use lower specification and older equipment
- Costs and resources shift from local IT to the network
- Costs shift to revenue\ongoing instead of capital
- IT skills shift to user advice and the aplication of IT - interpersonal and business skills
- Security - it is probably the case that global compainies like Google have the resources to secure systems far better than the average business but smaller hosing companies could be a risk (e.g. the fasthosts hack was very damaging to the company and those it hosted). However, the local computer and user remains a weak point for security
- Continuity - if the network is down then your IT use is down

For me this also raises the question about the organisations themselves - if workers are increasingly virtual through their use of remote and virtual systems then what of the organisation they work for - surly that too can be transformed.

Many organisations will still want/need physical locations (if only for vanity and display) but web presence is increasingly important to such a point that in the choice between on-line Vs physical organisations start to prioritise on-line and even foresake the physical.

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