If the role of IT in modern organizations is storekeeper rather than gatekeeper (see related blog post “From Gatekeeper to Storekeeper: The Changing Role of IT”), where does IT find the items with which to stock its shelves? If IT isn’t going to be the manufacturer of all the technology an enterprise needs, a supply chain is needed to make the IT store concept work.
The IT department sources “products” (apps and other technology solutions) by keeping a close eye on what’s happening outside the store – just as a merchandising manager does in apparel retail. A universe of apps develops outside the store, mimicking the supply chains that exist in the physical world between a retailer and its network of suppliers. IT observes trends, watches the growth in new apps, supports apps, and connects to them. The best of the universe is then brought inside. IT absorbs what is successful into the store for other business users in the organization to “buy” and benefit from.
In this scenario, IT’s responsibilities shift from manufacturing or gatekeeping to:
Making sure all the platforms connect and communicate and are integrated as needed
Minimizing the friction involved in passing data among platforms, apps, and other parts of the chain, particularly as users look to do more process-centric work via mobile devices
Making sure the platforms enable users to serve their own needs
Providing platforms for special functions, such as collaboration.