The Shrinking Gap of the Back Office and Front Office

CIOs: Put Business Technology Leadership Maturity In Your 2010 Strategic Plan | CIO – Blogs and Discussion

The back office and front office of business is collapsing. Businesses everywhere are experiencing tremendous shifts in their IT usage. 40 years ago, IT was a pure back office function buried in the bowels of corporations under the head of finance and used almost exclusively for accounting and book keeping.

Now, thanks to technology revolutions including but not limited to Web 2.0, the businesses ability to engage IT services has broadened. External service providers are selling their capabilities into the business at an increasing pace. The business is purchasing simple services from external “no name” providers in order to bring speed to their operations. The “land grab” aka “gold rush” is picking up speed, popularity, and credibility.

However, it is still early. These disparate services and the increasing ability to buy into a “cloud” of computing are in their infancy stages. If you are a small company (e.g. $500M or less in annual revenue), you are most likely buying into a cloud of some form to address your economic pressures and maintain your quality of service. If you are a mid-sized company (e.g. $500 – $1B in revenue), you need to start  experimenting and probably will, soon. If you are a large company (e.g. >$1B in annual revenue), you should start experimenting, and probably need to start winding up the corporate engines to warm up to this “experiment”. Your business customer is probably already doing it, so “resistance is futile”.

I expect that concepts like enterprise architecture, standards, governance, security, privacy, and integration will remain important and only increase in significance as more and more companies buy into the cloud.

IT needs to be a better partner to the business, but that message is not new. However, the compelling reason to do so, is more real now than ever. One of the best aspects about working in technology, is the requirement for eternal learning. Those who focus on learning, thrive. Pay attention, learn, embrace the change and increase your value to the business. Business technology will help you achieve these goals, should you choose so.

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