The increased adoption of cloud services is redefining the role of the IT department and a perennial need to do more with less, all while meeting increased demands from the business means IT needs to become collaborative and more consultative.

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The IT team needs to act as a broker of cloud-enabled services across the organisation, to ensure new capabilities fit with an integrated cloud strategy in which all data and IT resources are joined up and made the best possible use of. They need to become a partner in innovation, working with the business to understand and deliver upon its goals and objectives.

The focus of the IT department is shifting from managing the data centre stack or maintaining hardware. Innovations such as the Oracle Cloud Machine – which brings remotely-managed cloud services on premise, supporting the creation of a cloud-enabled strategy for all critical enterprise applications – means that the traditional support function of IT is becoming less relevant.

But that isn’t to say IT’s role is becoming less relevant. Far from it. Although cloud enables the rapid set-up and deployment of services, implementing cloud-based technologies isn’t as simple as just switching them on. The process needs to support existing business processes and legacy technology, while enabling new ways of working.

Indeed, the classical virtues of understanding the strength of architectures will remain as it is crucial in embracing the enterprise cloud model without introducing new complexities or data silos. As cloud reduces the complexity, there will also be a growing imperative for IT professionals who can design, develop, migrate and integrate new applications, as well as extend current ones, at speed.

In short, the traditional maintenance mind set of IT will give way to a more strategic, software-oriented vision.

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At an operational level, IT is already having an expanded role with the rise of ‘dev ops’, in which the lines are blurring between development and operations, and IT teams are becoming more application and service-oriented.

Another form of role expansion will come through the lines of business, which increasingly will look to IT to help process vast amounts of data across finance, sales and marketing. IT departments could increasingly be structured around lines of business, with data specialists working on projects for HR, finance or marketing, using cloud-based analytics tools.

This all creates a critical time for CIOs. Identifying and developing the right skills for their departments will become a necessity, and they need to plan early. They will need to think of resourcing, training and talent acquisition across areas such as development and integration, but also consider how IT roles are evolving as their business becomes increasingly digital.

Looking to a future where IT staff will look more like business application developers focusing on user experience rather than maintenance personnel. IT leaders need to start articulating to their teams what this future means and how cloud can enable team members to expand their roles and develop their careers.

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John Abel has worked with Oracle for over 20 years and during this time he has worked in Support, Applications, Technology and Consulting. More recently John has been in Oracle Systems for four years. John's main focus now is Engineered Systems and Oracle Database Cloud (Database as a Service) across Europe, Middle East and Africa and he often uses his prior experience to explain all aspects of technology to customers. In his presentations, John relates to actual customer experience and provides real world answers to real world problems. John is also a successful Oracle Press Author and using his experience of over 300+ customer engagements has produced publications explaining the Oracle Technology and Applications.