In the age of the service

In the age of the web service almost everything will soon be available online from a service provider.  How does that impact those of us who work for organisations that deliver IT services to users at their desktops?  My mind scribbles are that traditional IT vendors will need to switch their skill sets and concentrate on:

  • Understanding what can be served from a service provider.
  • How do the organisations, and more importantly individuals, actually get the value and see the benefit of services.
  • Integrating external services with internal systems.
  • What are the barriers to allow users to self provision the software that will be needed to make the services successful?
  • How to become a service provider.

Are we all going to lose our jobs in IT?  Well I hope not! The services themselves will need the engineering and technical skill to make them work.  The traditional architect of the IT system will have less to do with the tin and much more to understand customer needs and hence the best option from the available services.  This will lead to a blurring of the traditional system analyst roles and technical architect roles.  It will also lead to a reduction in the requirement for highly skilled engineers in a particular product, as services are by nature larger scale more efficient environments requiring less “local” labour. 

I think the best way to describe the new breed of IT professional will be the “integrators”.  Organisations will need people we need to develop into these roles.  What are the integrators, Steve described the requirements for what I call “integrators” in a conversation with me recently – he described the requirement to know a moderate amount about a lot of areas rather than a huge amount about a single area.  I think the importance of this will be applying this knowledge in such a way that customers can understand you and the solutions and services you develop have value.  I don’t think these people are quite the “mile wide inch deep” people, more likely to be covering one solution area.

This reflects my personal professional transition at the moment.  For many years I have specialised in Lotus Notes and Domino (and the ancillary products which build on that platform).  Now I’m about to engage on a new role which I hope will allow me to look at collaboration from a solution perspective.  I hope to concentrate on the solution rather than solely on the product and that delivers the service.  I expect this will result in some “friction” in my brain as I have to re-align some thought processes, deal with emotions (particularly towards the product I have worked with for many years), form new relationships with colleagues, and importantly re-align existing colleagues understanding of what I do.


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