Commoditisation Will Reshape and Replace ICT Roles

Are ICT leaders and their teams immune from replacement by an app? I don't think so.

Voco is often asked to help refresh or redesign operating models, particularly for ICT groups. There’s no one-size fits all solution but neither do these exercises begin from a zero base. Previously a pretty safe starting position would have been to retain differentiation by identifying and ring-fencing the organisation’s core IP, and then optimise the remainder. For example, keep your lead ICT architects on staff and obtain your ‘engineering’ capability from your supplier ecosystem.

We’ve had reason to question this established orthodoxy recently. For many enterprises it’s no longer enough to keep doing the same old thing more cheaply or even more efficiently.

What’s forcing the shift is the opportunity to make a step-change in cost.

Most enterprises face similar pressures in order to stay competitive or relevant. In this context, making a 75% reduction in cost base rather than a 15% optimisation becomes irresistible. ‘Cost Out, Cloud and Commoditisation’ are not just the root cause of the challenge; at the same time they are a route to the solution.

So, what will commoditisation do to the role of, and roles in, ICT?

In future, boards and senior management will expect less engine room and more navigation from the enterprise ICT group.

There has been a lot of interest lately around coding as a basic skill and plenty of Kiwi kids are now learning basic coding in the classroom.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the number of specialists building complex bespoke applications is going to reduce. While common, commoditised solutions may be less ‘complete’, and less immediately fit for purpose, it’s likely that integration or adaptation of those solution components will move to the business front line and a much wider range of non-specialists will assemble and tailor these components at need, using only basic coding skills and Integration-as-a-Service type tools. Most importantly enterprises are already learning to adapt themselves to the cost-effective commodity solutions on offer for consumption as-a-Service.

This workforce transformation will be disruptive. There will be individual and group pain points as new ways of working are adopted. But if we could fast-forward twenty or thirty years and look back on this period we are about to enter, I suspect that, like every other revolution that has occurred in the IT labour market, any bumps would hardly be discernible.

After all, we don’t look back in sorrow at the fact that hundreds of thousands of stable hands and barn managers were out of a job once the motorcar became ubiquitous. Let’s hope that the fact that we have chosen this dynamic industry would indicate that by nature most of us are inherently adaptable.

To discuss the topic further, please get in touch with the author, Jon Wallace, on 021 500 035.


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