The Future Composition of IT Departments

By Allan Andersen, Director of Enterprise Solutions
March 22, 2017 • 3 minute read

Maybe the most important skill needed is the ability to unlearn existing skills, i.e. don’t expect today’s best practices to deliver competitive advantage in the future.

It’s no secret that all businesses are in a race to become digital. As a result, IT organizations are being hit from multiple sides with automation and cognitive technologies, analytics with machine learning, Dev/Ops and new collaboration tools and models. Collectively this is changing the nature of work in an IT organization so profoundly we might not even want to think of it as an IT organization anymore.

Most of the “manual work” in modern IT departments is being driven towards Digital Labor solutions. Repetitive tasks and activities are going to be highly automated and data-driven analysis will prioritize backlogs for new automations. More complex activities, such as root-cause analysis will also be semi-automated to a certain extent by autonomous learning.

Simultaneously, there will be a greater need for more sophisticated collaboration via transdisciplinary teams to transform businesses with new innovative technologies and that requires new insight, new roles and new skills within IT.

So, what are the roles and requirements in the future IT organization?

New Roles in IT

Some roles may already exist in some progressive organizations and in some cases this could be a part-time role, but there will be a greater focus on:

  • Data scientists for increased utilization of advanced analytical solutions to help continuously improve operations and performance.
  • Knowledge curators to maintain and update content which drives automation and fuels digital labor solutions.
  • Automation (Dev/Ops) engineers to build and rebuild automation as a core competency with quality assurance and reporting of impact.
  • Cognitive engineers to build and maintain virtual support agents which are operationalizing IT service delivery for business users.
  • Writers, linguists and business SMEs who understand how to translate technology to business terms.
  • User experience and digital labor solution designers to create intuitive solutions by augmenting the more technical development teams with insight around the end-user experience.

There will still be a need for business analysts, technology architects and brokers, working with “as a Service” providers, to offer the right combination of internal versus external services to deliver what the business needs.

New Skills Needed

In the future, IT organizations will work much closer with the business prompting a greater focus on skills that influence how effectively teams work together. Talent that draws on factors outside traditional technical qualifications will be increasingly important. As a result, there will be a premium on finding skills such as:

  • Communication and collaboration skills. The creation of multiple inter- or transdisciplinary teams will require all team members to actively participate and bring their unique technical and business skills.
  • Agile participation skills. Agile development approaches are already being used in many IT organizations and the incremental approach to continuous improvement is critical as traditional projects are being replaced with agile backlogs.
  • Combinatorial innovation proficiency. Competitive advantage often stems from combining new approaches, technologies or routes to market with existing ones. Having the ability to envision new ways to deliver differentiation is going to be an important trait.

Imagining even further out how digital labor solutions could impact work and collaboration, our recent FuturaCorp study highlighted additional capacities. Now, some of these skills may seem far-fetched, however the work environment is also going to be very different. Some of these new skills include sense-making, social intelligence, new media literacy, linguistic knowledge, lateral thinking and logical reasoning. For a complete list and explanation check out the report.

And maybe the most important skill needed is the ability to unlearn existing skills, i.e. don’t expect today’s best practices to deliver competitive advantage in the future.


How do you hire for these roles and skills?

Remember the old saying: “Attitude, not Aptitude determines your Altitude”. I still believe that attitude remains supreme because it is important from a collaboration perspective, however aptitude will be increasingly important. Tomorrow’s success is not going to be dependent on “hard work” but rather “smart work”, and it will be reliant on transdisciplinary collaboration and the ability to incorporate advanced technologies in differentiated ways.


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