With the widespread adoption of cloud computing, IT departments are undergoing rapid change. Some of these changes cause confusion, conflict, and job insecurity. Many IT directors are unsure of how to position themselves going forward. Similarly, business owners are uncertain of what to expect from their IT department. This ambiguity and role confusion can create insecurity and mistrust in and of itself.

Traditionally, a good IT manager could manage internal support, maintain a break-fix presence internally, ensure the stability and security of their system, deliver some applications, and call it a day.

We’ll call this the inside-out approach. In this model, the IT manager is aligned with the company, reducing risk to external threats, primarily concerned with security and stability, often adopting a command and control mindset.

With this approach, many an IT director sees the rise of cloud computing itself as a threat, and takes steps to prevent the transition to the cloud for as long as possible, even as the company leaders are inundated with cloud marketing messages.

In the meantime, most of us have become used to running applications and accessing data across several devices, working on mobile or in BYOD environments. This ever-increasing device sprawl along with the widespread availability of cloud-based applications at the consumer level usually has both employees and owners expecting a level of access that is extremely difficult to maintain with the old command and control mindset.

The increasing availability, cost effectiveness, and competitive advantage of cloud computing makes the change even more difficult to forestall. Increasingly, IT managers will have to change their mindset regarding their internal role at the organization to an outside-in approach. No longer are they primarily gatekeepers with a dash of support; rather, they are now aggregators, facilitators, and business services providers. Going forward, it will be most helpful for IT directors to position themselves as IT consultants, with their company as the client.

This shift allows IT directors to increase their organizational value by harnessing and coordinating externally sourced services, rather than fighting to keep control in-house. This change to a collaborative approach can help expand the IT director’s thinking about what services and solutions are possible in moving toward IT Maturity.

Naturally, this means a different set of skills will need to be brought to the table, and I will be examining changes in both IT roles and services in the cloud era later posts, but for now, it is extremely important to be mindful of this sweeping change toward increased outsourcing of services, and to be seen as much more than an impediment to company progress.