IT is dead

IT is dead

The term IT is redundant. Particularly when we consider the industry its generalised use sets out to describe. We believe this antiquated narrative is too restrictive and narrow, and so Potentia no longer services the IT industry but is focused on stimulating growth in the Innovation, Digital and Technology (IDT) industry.

The term Information Technology, or IT, first appeared in an article published in the Harvard Business Review in 1958. That makes IT a 58-year-old term for an industry that is anchored in agility and progression. Originally, the term IT turned heads, it was impactful and modern and encouraged thought into what it stood for. But, its allure has diminished over time and the noun seems too static for an industry that has consumed or acquired more and more sub-categories. What exactly does the industry encompass now and why does IT no longer do the job?

The OECD has already moved on from IT to Information Communication Technology (ICT), and their definition of ICT has been adopted by New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to cover the four key industries:

  • Telecommunications
  • IT Services (software and computer services)
  • ICT manufacturing
  • IT wholesaling[1]

ICT is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t convey the level of innovation contained within this industry, the merging of disciplines and creep of technology based roles beyond the traditional industries. It doesn’t capture the key product components that are delivering some of New Zealand’s most exciting business success stories at the moment. We believe that while a better reflection of the current environment, Innovation, Digital and Technology is even more comprehensive and inclusive.

IT as it was originally defined has been consuming more and more critical business functions and becoming a key component of business change. Now days practically every business function not only has a technology component but is being transformed to be technology centric, a trend that is only expected to increase rather than decrease.  

IDT continues to be a dominant and growing industry in New Zealand. It contributed over $30 billion to GDP in 2014 and this is growing at a 9% average annually[2].  With over 10,000 businesses accounted for within the sector as at 2014, there are nearly 75,000 people employed in IDT-related roles in New Zealand.  And, if you look at the invention of new jobs, you know the ones that didn’t exist 10 years ago, like Cloud Technicians, Social Media Managers or UX Managers, a significant proportion of these are coming from the IDT community.

With every business having to digitise in some capacity to remain competitive and relevant in today’s business environment, IDT stretches across all industries, not just specialist “tech” companies. In fact, one of CompTIA’s top tech trends for 2016 is that digital business encompasses more than the IT department[3]; and as the boardroom becomes more interested and involved in technology-driven business transformation, greater resources and competency to service this will also be needed. Growth and diversification in IDT is relentless.

While IDT fits for now, the pace in which the industry moves suggests that this won’t always be the case. Because what lies ahead is yet to be designed, what it looks like is still to be imagined and how to describe it is yet to be determined.


[1] The New Zealand Sectors Report 2013, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment