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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Is it time for IT to fade away?

A conversation I had a week ago came back to me this morning during our WT Industry Day on cloud and mobility opportunities.

Last week, I had a very brief conversation with a marketing and public relations person I know. I asked her if she was getting more business from technology companies as opposed to traditional IT services companies.

“No one wants to be known as IT anymore,” she said.

It was a cocktail reception, so the conversation got shuffled from there. But I can’t stop thinking about it because I’ve heard similar comments over the last year or so. Usually just off-hand observations from people.

Then this morning, Robert Palmer, acting deputy director of the Enterprise Systems Development Office at the Homeland Security Department, struck a similar theme.

He was talking about the need to engage millennials in the workforce, and the important role that mobile technologies play.

Palmer joked about his high school-age son, who doesn’t talk about IT. “That’s old people speak. For him, it’s just life,” he said. “He doesn’t want to do IT, but he and his buddies can build an app over a weekend.”

There is something worth thinking about there – he doesn’t want to do IT, but he does because IT is just part of his life. But he doesn’t think of it as IT.

During the last 30 years, there’s been a great democratization of technology. Computers have gone to being the domain of a few to being something everyone uses. We carry more computing power in our pockets than used to sit on our desks just 10 years ago.

I would argue that IT has become so commonplace that we don’t even think of it as IT. It’s just how things get done.

This is a good change in that IT has become a stable and mature market.

But we also need to think about changing the conversation.

What my PR friend and Palmer’s son are talking about might fall into the realm of a perception of the market. But I would argue there is something more profound at work.

Whether it is a teenager or a seasoned government manager, they don’t really care about what IT does, but about what IT can do for them. It’s about the mission.

We’ve been seeing this shift in the market for several years, especially with tighter budgets, but I think it’s a long term shift that now has little to do with funding and everything to do with doing a job, gaining insights, or sharing information.

Maybe IT just needs to fade into the background and let the mission shine through.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 10, 2015 at 9:33 AM

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