IT has come a long way and so have the men and women who drive the industry.
In the past 50 years, IT has gone from suit to t-shirt both literally and figuratively.
As technology evolves, the culture and structure of enterprise IT has seen a drastic change and this has transcended to the way IT professionals look and operate within companies around the globe.
Today’s IT leaders are focused on innovation and disruption rather than rote operation. They’re the kind of people you’d likely find launching a start-up in some basement or co-working space in Africa — not confined to a desk or counter in some computer shop or lab.
Although there are still plenty of developments to come in the industry, IT has seen great advancements since its birth in the 1960’s – when men in suits managed the original mainframe systems — six-foot-tall chunks of metal, plastic, magnetic tape and hard disks.
Computers then were at best capable of only simple calculations and memory-based functions like managing travel reservations. Today, we have personal computers and even smartphones that can outperform a whole room of vintage computer hardware.
This revolution started out when a man in a black turtleneck promised the world that mainframe capabilities could be enjoyed on every desk in an office. The personal computer quickly became the focus point of IT operations, and its role only grew as the Internet offered enhanced connectivity and communication.
Even in the internet age, IT professionals were just gatekeepers; ensuring their companies had the proper access and capabilities, and solved any network or hardware problems that arose. The role was mostly straightforward and transactional, but then the cloud happened.
The rise of cloud computing — that is, the remote management of hardware and software — transformed IT in a way that it hadn’t been since the first mainframe computer.
Cloud computing revolutionized enterprise IT as it quickly became clear that there was a need to advance the tech agenda for companies, not merely perform gatekeeping duties. As a result, IT leaders became equal parts engineer and visionary, constantly on the lookout for new ways large-scale computing systems could impact company strategy.
Today our generation is enjoying the fruits of the hard work of these tech leaders and leveraging the platforms provided to bring to birth our own innovations. It is not uncommon to come across a group of young men and women with brilliant ideas that seek to disrupt existing markets and provide real value to the average consumer.
The tech community today is moving away from the usual corporate suit and tie to a more open company culture that promotes creativity and innovation. From the big wigs in Silicon Valley to budding entrepreneurs in Africa, tech professionals now try to change the world from the comfort of t-shirts, hoodies and a laptop.
Similarly, IT has moved from just computational tasks to data analytics, virtualization and machine learning. Virtualization and artificial intelligence is the new world order of technology today. In as much as high-end hardware and infrastructure are needed to drive the tech world, virtualization of physical resources (making them readily available anywhere) and making machines think like never before is where the future lies.