Device and software developers have, traditionally, propelled developments in the information technology sector. However, this long-standing state of affairs is beginning to change, as enterprises find new ways to deploy existing technology and construct internal product development teams tasked with creating bottom line-building solutions from scratch. In short, innovation is no longer solely the province of Silicon Valley giants.
How will corporate IT groups catalyze growth in the technology sector? In-house technical specialists are already pushing the space forward on two different levels.
Internal IT teams have the ability to transform modern businesses and the technology firms that support them. Some are doing just that, introducing innovations that change how work is done and, by extension, how enterprise solutions are produced.
IT teams have grown in size as the enterprise technology realm has expanded. With the large number of disparate devices and systems in the workplace, organizations must maintain the manpower needed to effectively manage these now-essential fixtures. However, this may soon change.
IT teams are expected to shrink by 40 percent over the next five to seven years, according to projections from Forrester Research published in The Wall Street Journal. Why? These internal groups are adopting agile workflows, intent on rolling out specialized projects with the potential to transform the balance sheet. Chief Information Officers at companies of all kinds now recruit for roles once found exclusively at software development firms. Data security specialists, network architects and regulatory experts are finding homes at companies outside the technology sector, as enterprises look to produce rather than purchase pioneering technology. Additionally, these streamline IT teams are separating themselves from other parts of the organization, essentially functioning as internal vendors.
What happens to the mission-critical systems IT personnel once managed? Cloud-based storage technology and automated enterprise solutions have negated the need for hands-on system management activities, allowing companies to strategically deploy IT assets for more innovative projects.
This approach is sure to result in the development of new technology, as scaled-down IT groups turn their attention from administrative responsibilities to inventive internal programs.
Moving the office, shop floor forward
Internal IT groups are on the frontline of an industrial revolution: the development of automated assets. An estimated 37 percent of businesses have adopted automated equipment of some kind, according to research from MHI. This figure is expected to balloon to more than 70 percent within the next five years, as more organizations get off the sidelines and embrace automation.
IT teams will likely lead these efforts, collaborating with external stakeholders and internal partners to design novel workflows and seek out new automation integration methods. This work could potentially push technology firms to reshape their offerings and build automated devices and software that better align with actual workplace conditions.
Similarly, IT personnel may have a hand in molding future office environments and, in turn, the technology that supports them. Today, a large percentage of work takes place outside of physical business locations. Approximately 43 percent of American professionals worked remotely last year, according to survey data from Gallup. This number will almost certainly grow, as millennials and generation xers pressure organizations to adopt flexible work arrangements. IT teams must, of course, facilitate these setups and develop on-the-go workarounds that allow employees outside of the office to stay engaged with on-site efforts.
Many expect advanced tools such as augmented and virtual reality solutions to come into play here in the near future, according to The Enterprisers Project. Those in the IT industry will be the first to engage with these products in the workplace, designing early deployment methods, shaping future iterations and completely transforming how professionals work.
In addition to the overarching trends mentioned above, IT groups are also influencing technical shifts in the technology sector, deploying burgeoning solutions in the real world.
Unpacking obscure insights
The business intelligence sector is booming. The market for this technology is expected to grow more than 7 percent this year to $18.3 billion, according to research from Gartner. Analysts for the firm believe this surge will continue over the next three years, pushing the market past the $22 billion mark.
The solutions that characterize this growing space utilize cutting-edge data-mining tools to cull actionable insights from on-the-ground assets and integrated backend systems, facilitating operational transparency and opening up new business opportunities. While powerful, modern BI solutions only take into account structured data – highly organized information found in specific databases. Those in the technology industry believe further insights lie locked away in unstructured sources, according to Deloitte.
These data points, called dark analytics, represent the new BI frontier, an area internal IT teams will navigate in the years to come. Analysts at Deloitte expect CIOs to ramp up machine learning and cognitive computing adoption efforts to equip IT professionals with the tools they need to explore dark analytics and look for ways to deploy this data in a way that benefits the business. These internal explorations not only hold promise for enterprises but also have the potential to impact the technology sector, shaping how device and software makers approach research and development efforts.
Championing open-source solutions
For decades, enterprise technology giants and IT leaders have looked down upon open-source applications, casting them off as unstable and difficult to support. Consequently, organizations have, traditionally, focused on proprietary alternatives with flashy, pre-built features and robust vendor maintenance plans. While these certainly hold up over time and produce results, implementation requires considerable capital and long-term support does not come cheap.
Recently, business leaders have changed their tune, encouraging IT teams to adopt open-source solutions whenever possible. Last year, the open-source software management firm Black Duck surveyed more than 1,300 IT leaders from across the globe and found that approximately 67 percent were actively promoting the use of such solutions internally. However, only half of these respondents indicated that their companies maintained open-source selection or approval processes.
IT teams will have a hand in shaping best practices for this burgeoning form of enterprise technology, grappling with unrefined raw code to develop entirely new applications and network architectures, many of which may become the new normal, according to CIO Dive. This will of course have great impact on the technology market. For one, proprietary competitors will have to develop new solutions and pricing models to match open-source alternatives crafted in-house. Some firms like Microsoft have already started such efforts, investing in new offerings catered toward the open-source crowd.
Skills for the future
The trends mentioned above demonstrated that IT teams have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the enterprise technology realm. However, multifaceted IT leaders with managerial and technical skills must lead the charge, as the marketplace dictates that internal technology efforts fall in line with larger business goals.
Here at the Collat School of Business at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, we mold such professionals via our online Master of Science in Management Information Systems program. MS MIS students navigate an up-to-date curriculum that equips them with the managerial skills they need to become key leaders in the IT field and help organizations of all kind future-proof their operations.
Those pursuing the MS MIS program at UAB take six courses totaling 18 credit hours. These include Information Technology and Business Strategy, Information Security Management, Leadership in IT and Technology Based Project Management. Students also complete 12 hours of concentration coursework. MS MIS candidates can earn their degrees within 1.5 years of enrollment, opening up new opportunities in the IT field without setting foot within a single lecture hall.
The Master of Science in Management Information Systems program at UAB ranks among the “Best Online Graduate Business Programs,” according to U.S News and World Report. The MS MIS program has also received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Are you interested in pursuing an online MS MIS degree at UAB’s Collat School of Business? Connect with one our enrollment advisors to learn more about the MS MIS degree track and how it can help you make an impact in the IT industry and beyond.