"A new organisation type is emerging," announces John Mahoney, chief of research at IT sector advisory group Gartner. And it will be one that spells the end for the traditional IT department.
At its Symposium events, Gartner's senior analysts like to stun the delegates with bold five-year predictions. But in setting out his vision for enterprise computing circa 2011 at Gartner's Florida Symposium in October, Mahoney went further than most.
By 2011, he says, three-quarters of IT departments will have changed their role. In many cases, that will entail a much greater involvement in running the business. But for 10% companies, it will mean disbanding the IT department entirely; at another 10%, IT will have been reduced to a commodity.
Mahoney sees the driving forces behind these changes as the extent to which businesses will increasingly become reliant on process and information – a natural, though not exclusive, preserve of the IT function.
"There remains controversy about the extent to which IT can, should or will take and be trusted with leadership of business processes and information," he says.
This vision, then, is very much a ‘do or die' scenario. Either business strategy becomes indistinguishable from technology strategy and the role of IT grows, or it is seen as a utility and the IT department ceases to exist.