The Shrinking of the Organisational Unit
In most organisations, and by that I mean any type of collective where people come together to achieve a common goal, there is some form of internal organisation. This could be defined by department, discipline, function, client, location, and many others.
Traditionally whatever your organisational unit was, it tended to be a fairly static assignment. If you worked in the finance function, that’s typically where you stayed, at least for a reasonable period of time. The same with Facilities, once there, that was your home, and also your identity. In fact, there’s probably another written piece needed on the subject of labelling, stereotyping, membership and organisational function.
Some call this organisation by function ‘silos’, and breaking out of these has been the subject of worthy articles, essays and other learned pieces for many years. Improving collaboration has been the driver for this silo-wrecking, getting people to work with others based on the demands or goals of the task rather than some notional ring-fencing by who your line manager is.
From the IT perspective, this has been quite a useful feature of organisations, where the resources & applications people are allowed access to has been defined by their function, or department. It’s a relatively un-dynamic classification, which means it’s easier to manage, reduces the risk of error and increases the ability to audit and monitor who has access to what. It’s also easier to deploy application sets and other resources. If everyone in an organisational unit has the same set of tools a single ‘bundle’ can be deployed, often remotely and automatically to everyone in that unit.
However, there is a new dynamic appearing where traditional, even in the silo-wrecked world, units are shrinking even further. And taken to a not too distant future, these units will soon consist of named individuals or specialist roles. This is because the teams are defined by the requirements of the client, at that time, for a particular job. And that may be fleeting, or it may not.
People are developing a broader range of skills now at a much faster rate than before. The average tenure of a Millennial is around 2-3 years. And at each company someone works at they gain new skills, with new clients, working in new ways and using new tools. Therefore, if a particular piece of business, or client, requires a particular skill set or ability, it’s easier than ever to find those within your organisation, and they may be in a place not traditionally associated with your requirement. But can you ‘borrow’ them? If the client needs it, then the answer will surely be yes. So suddenly, the resources required by that person, and the applications needed, change. But not necessarily for long. It could be for a week, or a month. Then back again to their previous role. Multiply this up and you can quickly see the opportunity for error, with all that change. It is a truism in IT circles that things only break when there’s change. Thus the well-defined and documented discipline of Change Management. With this amount of change, something is bound to go wrong. And the results of an error can have serious consequences. Give the wrong person access to the wrong data and all kinds of red flags start to wave. Equally as bad, if someone can’t access the information they need they can’t work. And in composite organisations, like groups, or partnerships, accessing the same single data set can be a daunting problem to solve.
Use of cloud services within enterprises is helping with that, but in itself is not the solution. There are more services available now to facilitate cross-organisational collaboration. But these have to be used with extreme caution, and the base design of the resource sharing needs to be exactly defined, monitored and audited.
What this all boils down to is the way people are defined and the way resources are shared. The traditional definition by department, function, etc. is no longer adequate. The new organisational units are individuals and roles. The individual is listed in the central directory and the role defined by the application. These aren’t new concepts, but applying them in traditional directories, such as Active Directory, especially one that has grown over time with the lead-weight of legacy hanging on it, can be very complex to apply to this new organisational dynamic.
The new iDaaS applications are designed with this new reality in mind. Integrating with internal directories they are designed to blend single authentication mechanisms (which are absolutely critical) with the increasingly cloud-based applications, be they internal or public. These new iDaaS services have additional functionality too, such as deployment engines, multi-factor authentication capabilities, and new security features.
Pop-up teams will soon be the new norm, both within, between and across organisations. Traditional methods of securing our data and deploying applications don’t work for this new reality. Geography, the destruction of silos, new partnerships and collaboration models means that the individual is the new organisational unit. And once our authentication & auditing structures are built with this in mind, not only will be able to respond to this new paradigm, but we’ll also be creating the kind of IT support framework that can say ‘yes’ much more than we currently are able to, whilst maintaining the security capabilities our clients, suppliers and executives expect.