A colleague at Computerworld UK recently had a discussion in San Francisco with Facebook's former CRM and platform applications architect Mike Leach, who warned of the 'reality' of the shrinking role of the IT department.
The resulting article titled itself: 'Ex-Facebook chief warns of disappearing role of IT'. But, we quipped in the newsroom, could we not speak to a number of IT leaders, former or otherwise, and do a response about the increasing importance of IT departments and the disappearing role of Facebook?
Leach's view was that IT will remerge, with the systems integrator role returning to major organisations and the CIO becoming more of a product manager as other departments shape the success and needs of the company.
But this is to ignore the increasing business role CIOs play in order to help an organisation achieve its goals, with the success of the IT department now integral to the overall achievements of most companies.
Indeed, easyJet CIO Trevor Didcock, top-ranked chief information officer in the CIO 100, explained in September at the CIO Summit how the airline, essentially a start-up, has revolutionised a sector with technology now placed at the heart of how the organisation does business, and with one of the smallest IT budgets in the industry.
Technology is certainly a changing role, but the decision-making relevance of IT is far from shrinking. In fact, it is now the job of the department to guide the rest of an organisation or company towards its goals by explaining and implementing the shift to virtual environments and cloud applications.
It would be too easy to say how a company like Facebook is faddish and, even appreciating their $100 billion IPO, is on the decline. But the musings of a former chief at the social networking site are wide of the mark.
Although long gone are the days when the IT manager was a socially awkward man sneering at anybody who did not understand rudimentary MS DOS commands, the modern commercially switch-on CIO still appreciates how the backbone of IT (and even Facebook) exists in servers and data centres.
Therefore it is precisely the IT department which understands how technology can cater to the needs of the company – whether cloud storage or low-power servers are the way forward, in which areas business apps need to be mobile optimised and with which tools to secure BYOD end users and virtual desktops – and is in the position to really make a difference by stepping up, rather than shrinking away.