IT professionals may well need a medical degree in the future, according to futurist, Craig Rispin.
Rispin used his keynote presentation at the Data#3 Juice IT convention to glimpse into possible future directions for the IT industry.
There, he cited recent examples of Craig Venter's synthetically produced cell breakthrough, (ie cells with computers for parents), as well as research being conducted by Chinese scientists to turn e.coli bacteria into a data storage 'device' (90 GB per bacteria).
While this potential crossover between industries is far down the track, we've already seen examples of computing skillsets being required in industries traditionally separate (computers becoming part of the mechanics of cars, for instance). It would be logical to assume in the future IT professionals, too, would require cross-skilling.
Of more immediate concern is the sheer number of devices that IT departments and organizations will need to be able to manage in the near future.
"By 2015 there will be one trillion connected devices," Rispin said.
"What is the management of that going to look like? Consider that even the e.coli bacteria will have an IP address."
Another example Rispin cited was sunglasses that are being used to stream data on the fly to athletes while wearing them. Those, too, will have IP addresses, and require management as they sit on some form of network.
That rapid proliferation of devices requiring management will be an ongoing headache for IT. But looking forward, Rispin quoted a report by the Boston Consulting Group that said there will be two types of IT departments in the future - those that were change drivers, and those that continue to take orders from other interest groups.
It was the former department that will spend less, see higher margins and have a more engaged IT workforce, he said, urging IT departments to take a closer look to the future directions and potential of IT.