Head in the Clouds - IT organizational impact

The move to digital and cloud will have a profound impact on the IT organization. The application development teams and support teams will need to ensure that the applications are both secure and capable of operating in the cloud. They will need to implement automated testing so when vendor service/environment upgrades take place, the applications that might be impacted can be quickly tested.  Application testing needs to be focused on the most critical business apps first. Identifying any issues and then correcting them swiftly is paramount. 

The IT infrastructure function will shrink and morph into a service management and cloud service brokerage. Infrastructure IT staff will need to retain overall architectural control and understanding. The internal networks and connectivity to the cloud will need to be monitored and managed as will any remaining islands of on premise servers and storage. In the ideal world, these local environments will be short-lived and temporary in nature.

The infrastructure IT staff will have an increasing involvement with the business units and will support the application teams. Help Desks, will be outsourced to vendors. Increasingly, they will become “Helpful Desks”. Rather than “break / fix” remediation, they will provide on the spot training and assistance. Internal technology coffee shops where staff can go get their devices fixed or pick up a replacement will be common. As will vending machines that dispense, power supplies, mice, headphones, cables and other common paraphernalia to keep employees productive. Payment will be done using a smart company app. With auto approval based on policies.

Printing volumes will significantly reduce. Printers take up expensive office space, require special ventilation and are highly mechanical and complex to maintain.  Color printing costs twice as much as monochrome and the average life of a printed document is in the order of one hour. Enterprises have acres of filling cabinets stuffed with paper documents that nobody looks at and truck loads of documents are placed in long term storage or sent to the shredding machine for recycling. The whole process from tree, to sawmill, to paper factory, to delivery, to printer, to printout, to shredding and recycling is hugely damaging to the environment. Office space will evolve to have print corrals centralized on one or two floors in a multi-floor office building. This discourages haphazard printing and forces those employees who do want a printout, to go for a long walk. Reducing and even eliminating printing will be a key outcome for a digital business leveraging the cloud.

Office environments enabled by IOT and catering to different individual preferences, workstyles and team environments will become the norm. Finding people, empty desks and meeting rooms will be enabled by mobile apps and electronic signage. Data, in the cloud will be available to any device that the employee choses to use and will “follow” the employee as she/he moved through the office environment.  

Also there is the political and emotional “loss” when senior IT executives give up their physical infrastructure. For infrastructure IT people, there is something wonderfully magical about a well-organized and well run data centre. Without these physical assets, some IT executives feel a loss of power and importance. Bricks, mortar and tin have real weight, a few fluffy clouds are just so much vapor. However, all these assets still need to be managed regardless of where they physically reside. The IT organization needs to retain the skills and institutional knowledge to manage and support the cloud assets along with on premise networks and legacy infrastructure. Avoiding cloud sprawl and inefficient and costly over consumption is critical. Ensuring that shadow cloud consumption is minimized, managed and secure will also be a challenge.

All of this change will require a capable and skilled IT organization. Despite the preference to move quickly and expeditiously to cloud, for many organizations this transformation will take years to complete. The complexity of managing the transformation while keeping the lights on and retooling the IT organization around service management, automation, AI and IoT will be significant.  Ultimately the physical assets may disappear into the digital mists but many of the old challenges and a few new ones, still remain.


Simon Morris is a Digital Transformation leader at KPMG.  When his head’s not in the clouds, he is riding his bike, carving turns on his snowboard, or helping his son build water cooled computers. He can be reached at simonmorris@kpmg.ca