By 2011 at least three-quarters of IT organisations will have changed their role, one in 10 will cease to exist and a similar proportion will be reduced to commodity status, industry experts have predicted.
According to IT analysts Gartner, the maturing of traditional technology applications, the growing role of outsourcing and the greater penetration of technology into all aspects of business will all drive radical change in the IT sector.
"A new organisation type is emerging - one that will take the lead on information and process," said John Mahoney, chief of research for IT Services & Management at Gartner.
"While it will grow from an IT base, the primary focus of the new organisation will be business transformation and strategic assets of information and process. When mature, it may no longer be identified as an IT organisation."
As technology becomes more pervasive and more critical to the routine operations and strategic goals of most business, its contribution will come under greater scrutiny, whether it produces good results or bad. Businesses that master technology will recognise that success, but those that fail will blame technology accordingly.
As a result, Gartner analysts predict that by 2011, IT contribution will be cited in the top three success factors by at least half of the top performing businesses, while IT barriers will be cited in the top three failure factors by at least half of the lowest performers.
This trend will have a major influence on the role and organisation of IT and on IT leaders.
Gartner predicts that IT organisations in 2011 will have 20 per cent less people, 40 per cent less in-house technology roles and double the number of information, process and business roles compared to 2005.
This change will go hand-in-hand with the changing nature of IT leadership which will see the strategic leadership role will split into business technology and business network leaders.
IT could also be embedded in business as a pervasive commodity that is managed by business executives as part of their regular roles, Gartner argues. In this case, IT would typically be sourced as part of a broader business process.
"There remains controversy about the extent to which IT can, should or will take and be trusted with leadership of business processes and information," John Mahoney said.
"In some cases, those roles will arise from outside the IT organisation and the entity will then be obliged to absorb many of the strategic and architectural roles formerly played by the IT organisation."
However, the evolution is not all in one direction. Some businesses are even starting to disband their IT organisations and to embed IT throughout the business. This approach could cause a disruptive backlash among some business leaders who may resist the rise of process and information architectures.
What IT delivers in the future will also be tangibly different than what was delivered in the past. Simply improving the productivity of administrative processes will remain important and necessary, but will no longer be sufficient on its own.
"In order to energise IT management to deal with the new challenges to deliver rapid results, it needs a vision that says, 'We are going to be delivering a different type of information technology in the future which is about supporting the decision makers in the organisation with non-routine, cognitive work," said Andy Kyte, Gartner's research vice president.
"IT professionals that remain fixated on the data and transaction paradigm will be relegated to a minor role in business support."
The IT industry is no longer arranged into specific categories, he added, and is being redefined to a level that has not been seen before.
"Whatever the outcome, IT executives must identify and monitor the key external trends that will affect business technology in their enterprises," John Mahoney said.
Andy Kyte, meanwhile, said that tomorrow's IT managers need to focus on three basic objectives: Eliminate, Consolidate and Focus.
"Deliver rapid results by eliminating clutter," he said.
"Consolidate and simplify your infrastructure and applications, and focus on the one project that can make a real difference to the business. That will make business leaders sit up, take notice and understand that IT really is delivering value."