While the industry continues to debate the same topic, my prediction remains the same: the IT department is going to go virtual. Gone will be the days where employees go down the hall to ask their IT department for help or submit tickets to get serviced.

Rather, the IT department is going to play a much quieter role – one where it watches behind the scenes to protect corporate data.

The trends that brought the industry to this crossroad are no secret. Things like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Bring Your Own App (BYOA) and Bring Your Own Workflow (BYOW) have changed the way companies do business – especially from a technology perspective.

While the IT department of the (near) future may look different, they will still play an important role that becomes even more critical as data continues to grow and threats continue to increase both in number and sophistication.

Driving a change

First, it was BYOD. As employees started bringing their own devices to the workplace, debates sprung up about who was responsible for securing those personally-owned devices. In a setting where the IT department had always had a clear path, this new trend started pushing IT out the door.

While the conversation often stops at the device, the reality is that along with the device, the employee brings his/her own software, taking away a lot of IT's control over technology and processes.

BYOA – the result of consumers having so much directly available and accessible (i.e., employees) to them. The result: they can lead the charge in finding their own technology solutions. Looking to manage a project? There's an app for that. How about communicate with team members? There's an app for that, too.

Along with a person's device, he/she is choosing which applications to download, use and share that make their workdays as efficient as possible. (In fact, 64 percent of people claim they download apps of their choosing from public app stores and use them at work, according to my organization's internal research.) While this may make employees more efficient, it dramatically reduces the role IT plays in providing, managing and overseeing employees' daily work-related tools.

Now, it's BYOW. Tools like Zapier and IFTTT make it easy to link systems and people together, making enterprise systems less relevant to users in the company. Each user can now create his/her own customized, optimized workflow to make jobs easier.

The Future

Moving forward, IT will not be working with people directly. Today's technology – including the way businesses are using it – means systems are easier to add and integrate (with little help from IT). Therefore, IT's new role will become more about ensuring employees use the existing systems and don't abuse them. And those employees looking for support? Expect them to find it through the Geek Squad and Apple Store.