It’s hardly a surprise that the digital transformation of the economy and the new technology initiatives that accompany it are transforming the role of corporate IT. However, the ways in which IT’s role is changing may indeed be somewhat surprising.

A new study by the IT staffing services at TEKsystems finds that the technology initiatives owned by the IT department are increasingly being outsourced, while internal initiatives are increasingly directed by other business owners and corporate functions. This is driving a shift in the expectations for the IT department and the role played by the CIO, who is ever more frequently viewed as a “partner-liaison” for tech-based projects outside IT’s traditional domain.

Also See: IT staff often see themselves as top internal data security risk

Contrary to the widely popularized view that digital transformation is elevating the strategic importance of IT, the TEKsystems report finds that in many cases, IT staffers have become more burdened with maintaining existing systems, while new strategic initiatives are taking place beyond the purview of centralized IT.

For the report, TEKsystems surveyed more than 1,000 IT managers. One third (34 percent) of these view their own role in the IT organization as “transforming,” while slightly more than half (51 percent) said it was “engaging,” and 16 percent described it as “functional” or “enabling.” When asked how they see their role changing over the next 12 to 14 months, 41 percent said it would become more transforming, 49 percent put the emphasis on engaging, while 10 percent expect it to be functional or enabling.

But when asked about the IT department’s top priority in the year just passed, 47 percent of the managers surveyed said it was “to improve existing IT applications and infrastructure.” For 2018, the No. 1 response by 35 percent of the respondents was “to improve efficiency.”

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