The shift from IT manager to business consultant

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Where tech professionals used to feel like they were speaking a foreign language to their non-tech colleagues, a lot has changed over the past decade. All of us own mobile phones, internet routers, laptops, and tablets, and we all use cloud-based collaboration tools, virtual meetings, and AI powered productivity suites.


The benefit of this is that IT managers no longer have to spend hours upon hours performing manual troubleshooting tasks for the wider organisation, as self-service IT functions gain wider adoption due to more tech savvy stakeholders. And the good news doesn’t stop there. The cloud now provides access XaaS (everything as a service), which means IT teams are spending far less time wrangling with unwieldy on-premise software deployments that take months and years of fine tuning before they provide any value.


Does this mean the IT team is becoming obsolete? Not at all, but their role within the business is changing. In fact, Gartner has predicted that by 2021, 40% of IT staff will hold multiple roles, most of which will be business rather than technology related. Driven by new models of technology investment and consumption, the focus of IT departments is shifting towards managing experiences and an outcome for the business.


So what are these outcomes they need to provide? The questions becomes, if everyone in the business has greater capability to manage technology, how can IT leaders use their expertise to improve the status quo? More simply, how can It leaders shift from the managers of IT to innovation consultants?


Unfortunately, we know that operational IT teams are too often faced with the reality of just keeping the lights on, whereby their workload is consumed by routine operations and maintenance of IT systems. It’s no surprise that IDC estimates up to 80% of global spending on IT is used for maintenance, while less than 20% is used for innovating and driving digital transformation.


Another piece of research from Rimini Street asked a number of CIOs and IT leaders to rank the biggest barrier to innovation in their business, and respondent identified these as


  • spending too much keeping the lights on (77%)
  • lack of board support for significant investment in innovation (76%)
  • being locked in to vendor contracts that restrict innovation (74%)


Getting out from underneath the avalanche of routine IT drudgery is more possible than ever, but it requires IT leaders to adopt a change in mindset. Where their value to the business used to be in owning and managing IT assets, they’re now expected to be pulling the best available services from a broader ecosystem of partners and providers.


Rather than spending their time building their own monuments in the forms of infrastructure and networks, IT leaders need to ask whether this is in the best interest of the business. They need to consult and collaborate with other teams across the business to find out where change and innovation can provide them with more value. Once they understand where the greatest need is within the business, they can then provide the strategic and impartial advice that boards and senior executives need to make technology decisions.


About the author


As the Managing Director of Aryon, my team and I are here to reduce the complexity for organisations who want to take advantage of next-generation networks, infrastructure and workforce technology. If you would like to discuss how your organisation can take advantage of new digital networks, infrastructure and technology without the added stress, please feel free to get in touch with me at dean.bartlett@


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