Do you really need in house IT?

Modern businesses tend to live and die with their information technology systems. Even sectors which once seemed far detached from high tech, such as construction or retail, increasingly rely heavily on mobile and network technology to run their operations smoothly and efficiently. Just as it’s no longer possible for a general contractor to remain competitive without a mobile phone, more powerful communication and analysis keeps scores of service and manufacturing businesses on a level playing field with competitors. Failures in any part of the high-tech chain sustaining those tools spells disaster.

So almost every business ends up with an IT manager at some point. This may be a full-time employee who effectively acts as the all around “IT guy” for the organization, or it may be a contractor who comes in and fills the same function, or it may be a high-level manager with a large staff reporting to them. “IT manager” isn’t always the job title, but it is an accurate description of their role–their decisions govern the strategy and execution of all technology-related decisions in the organization.

It may sound like madness to suggest that you don’t need an IT manager to handle all these important tasks any more. But increasingly, businesses are learning to do without a formal IT manager, and with the overhead and bottlenecks associated with having a single person filling the role.

There are several trends underlying this sea change in organization. The first is the improvement and increased availability of outsourced IT services. Managed service providers (MSPs) exist to handle almost any imaginable on-site technology installation or troubleshooting task, and to do so at a fixed fee and according to pre-determined contract. For software and services, cloud-based service providers can dish up everything from managed electronic mail systems to online office software instantly on-demand.

Arranging any of these services doesn’t require anything other than a clear business requirement and a credit card number.

Determining those business requirements, and matching them to the appropriate technological solution, is increasingly becoming a role that executives and business staff are comfortable filling. That overall familiarity with technology, and particularly on-demand services, is the second trend driving IT managers to extinction. With the increasing penetration of the Internet and online services into our daily lives, almost everyone has experience with negotiating online ordering and managing accounts. Signing up with a managed email provider is no more difficult than subscribing to Amazon Prime for today’s workforce.

So, do you still need an IT manager? Take a hard look at your organization’s real technology management requirements and decide if it is still appropriate to keep a specialist in that role. You may find that the position is costing far more than it is worth.

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