The role of the information technology department is under scrutiny in a way that makes its past challenges seem almost quaint by comparison. Cloud computing services provide an alternative source of powerful technology. Employees are getting work done using free Web applications as well as their own laptops and smartphones. Executives can make many of their own technology decisions. Traditional IT function roles are being displaced. No wonder some analysts and executives are asking whether IT departments are necessary anymore.
It may be an exaggeration to say that IT departments should go the way of secretarial pools, but the function is certainly ripe for reinvention. In a new Accenture Institute for High Performance survey, IT was chosen most often, as the function business executives would most like to build from scratch. IT executives singled out their own function as a target for reinvention by an even bigger margin. (See Figure 1.) IT, the agent of change, is now the target.
But how should enterprise IT evolve? How will it be sourced five years from now, and what should be its roles, responsibilities and business goals? That is where many executives appear to be stuck. Less than a third say they have a clear vision of how their IT function will look by that time. Barely one in five business executives say they know what the CIO role will consist of in five years. (See Figure 2.)