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Where has all the IT gone?

When new tech emerges, people often wonder whether it will be the technology that finally puts IT administrators out of their jobs for good. At a very basic level, technology exists and evolves to take a load off human beings. The telephone made it easier to communicate with one another, the computer made it easier to create content and the internet made it easier to find and share information.

Smartphones and tablets upped the communication and computing game even more, and now, they’re making it easier for workers to do their jobs. People use mobile devices to send contracts back to the office, file expense reports while traveling and video chat with customers. If employees can do their jobs better by using consumer devices and apps, do they still need legacy business applications, content management software and other tools made for the desktop? Do they still need IT?

The answer is yes. As long as there are workers, there will be IT departments. Sure, the mobile era has brought change when it comes to traditional admin tasks such as software provisioning and client management. Today’s IT admins have to focus on delivering applications to various endpoints through various means—all while balancing usability and security. Mobile technology does give users more autonomy, but IT is still required to manage and secure that technology.

In fact, IT might play a more important role than ever before. At VMworld in August, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger explained how the proliferation of new endpoints and cloud computing is ushering in a new age of IT: one where admins will be more involved. Those technologies change the way IT functions. But at the end of the day, businesses still need to control costs and handle security, compliance and day-to-day management tasks that a service provider can’t always take on.

In this new age of IT, it’s critical to keep track of how users access, share, store and secure content from all their different devices, operating systems and apps. It means understanding users’ mindsets more and working with them closely to establish security and privacy policies that meet the requirements of all departments. To top it off, most organizations still rely on legacy desktop software and systems, and they will for a very long time. IT has to manage all of that as well.

But what about the next stage in technology we’re all hearing about—the long-awaited artificial (AI) intelligence boom? Gelsinger said 2019 will be the year we cross over from more human-driven devices running in the world to more machine-driven devices. If that’s the case, perhaps IT really does have something to worry about. This month, columnist Maribel Lopez takes a closer look at the role AI plays in the mobile enterprise. Are you ready for the machines?

This post originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of the Modern Mobility e-zine.