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Survey: Future IT guys will 'crowd-source' to fix stuff

'So most of you don't think we need a firewall, eh?'

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Dell and Intel expect that crowd-sourcing will be a challenge that IT managers and chief information officers will have to meet in the next 10 to 15 years. Businesses will want to do it, and IT managers will have to work out how deliver it, they predict in a survey about IT in the workplace commissioned from research group TMS.

Dell believe that normal businesses will move to the sort of model that film studios use: big temporary teams. "We're going to start to see more businesses operating with crowd sourcing, the way that lots of professionals come together to make a movie and then disband," said Bryan Jones, Executive Director of Marketing for Large Enterprises at Dell.

The crowds might be better described as a large distributed workforces of freelancers, but the IT needed to co-ordinate them will be similar.

It could take a lot of work. "Broad compatibility and standards-based protocols are required before crowd sourcing can reach critical mass," the report states. "This is related not only to IT infrastructure, but also to agreed standards, and in some cases regulations for data protection, confidentiality and security protocols."

Jones said: "Crowd-sourcing is the most controversial trend we spotted; people want to take advantage of it. They're not exactly sure how to do it, but they want it. If you're going to use crowds like this you have to have strong values and principles. It's around design, making features that allow for the right outcomes."

The Dell rep said that IT guys will have to become strategists as well as computer buyers. Bosses may have to free them from the day-to-day crap to let them do some deep thinking about the challenges ahead: "The time when single vendor stack solutions was enough is over ... The IT guy in the past, he had to choose a product and implement that product, now he has to make decisions about how the workforce work," Jones told The Reg.

This survey marks Dell's push into selling IT solutions, something they are keen to do after seeing a tightening of profits in their traditional gig of flogging PCs to punters.

Marketing exec Jones assured us that this research was not just some trendy marketing ploy, but research that would actually influence what kind of products the company builds: "This is how we'll plan: do we develop, do we build or do we buy."

Other trends highlighted by the Evolving Workplace report include things that CIOs are already grappling with: ethical dilemmas about monitoring employee use of devices and internet and a change in the adoption of devices as people start to use their own phones and laptops for work.

The research also flags up some vaguer trends that require management solutions as much as IT ones: the move to measure productivity in output not hours, and the different demands of different generations in the workplace.

Read the Dell, Intel Evolving Workplace Report 1 here. ®

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