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May 21, 2014

Work in IT? Your job won’t exist in 10 years

Ex-BT CTO Peter Cochrane tells Ignite audience that IT departments are facing extinction.

By Joe Curtis

IT departments are dying as companies begin to outsource their tech services, according to ex-BT CTO Peter Cochrane OBE.

He accused IT pros of "wasting their lives" on software upgrades and maintenance and predicted that they have just five to 10 years left within SMBs, before most mid-market companies opt for virtualised services from consumer tech firms like Google.

Speaking at the Ignite conference in London, the self-styled futurologist added that IT is a source of frustration, rather than innovation.

He said: "IT departments are going to die. They don’t provide the service [required], they’re not a patch on Google or anybody else. Everybody’s frustrated because nobody can do any work.

"It’s already starting to happen. IT departments need to be as user friendly and utilitarian as Google and they’re not. They don’t help people work, they stop people working. They’re wasting their lives messing around uploading the latest version of Office."

His comments come after a survey of 195 senior decision makers found that nearly one in five IT pros believe their industry is not at a point of transformation despite the rise of mobile, social and cloud technologies, compared to just 6% of respondents from other parts of the business.

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The research, commissioned by Ignite organisers and business tech community Nimbus Ninety, also found that of all respondents, 70% cited mobile as the most transformative technology hitting their industry, followed by social media at 65% and cloud computing at 64%.

And Cochrane, who started his consultancy, Cochrane Associates, in 2006, told CBR that contrary to widespread perception, cloud is a secure environment.

"Is your team up to the security capabilities of Cisco, IBM, Google and Apple? They’re not, [so] why people are providing their own IT services beats me," he said, adding that IT-imposed limits on email capacity are outdated with the online options of Gmail and others.

As the consumerisation of IT takes hold, he suggested that companies will follow the consumer approach of storing various data in different cloud storage providers, such as Microsoft SkyDrive and Box.

He said: "Using multiple cloud providers make it much more difficult for hackers. I can chop my data into little pieces and put it in different servers, which a hacker has to find and also know the encryption code for each."

Cochrane’s comments appear to contradict a recent survey of 100 tech professionals that found that IT blames the business for preventing it from investing in long-term infrastructure upgrades like virtualisation.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said their priority was to invest in long-term infrastructure, but the most common complaint was that the business wanted to spend IT budgets on short term gains such as Office upgrades.

Another 44% accused the boardroom of lacking technological awareness, making it harder to communicate IT issue.

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