Four major trends highlighted by Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president of global research at the Gartner Symposium ITXPO 2007 that threatened to make IT managers irrelevant were the consumerisation of IT, alternative delivery models for IT, 'green' IT and the changing shape of IT.

It is a given, Sondergaard said, that today, most high-tech products are now purchased by consumers rather than by IT. As a result, high-tech design is being driven by consumers.

"Consumers influence the price point and the design of technology," said Sondergaard.

Over time, this trend will find its way into the heart of the enterprise and influence IT infrastructure and architecture as well with consumers influencing available storage, processing power, and bandwidth.

"This will cause significant disruption in the technology sector," Sondergaard said.

"By 2009, organisations will be required to deliver scaled down versions of applications, content, and value-added services to a customer's personal, virtual, or home computing environment," said Sondergaard.

The second trend that Gartner will be focusing on in the months ahead is that of alternative delivery models that give users new options for acquiring technologies and creating new business models.

"There is a growing desire to pay for access to technology and business outcome, not for use of technology," said Sondergaard. This in turn will engender new hardware and software licensing models as users increasingly buy services rather than products.

"These new options and models will cannibalise or eliminate markets and vendors, and new purchase options will create major financial consequences for all of us."

Sondergaard warned strong public and political environmental interest will affect all suppliers and users and that IT organisations need to be cognizant of its environmental impact.

"IT directly impacts the amount of CO2 emissions and can impact the reduction of CO2 emissions. Green is big, and it is unpredictable," said Sondergaard.

Finally, Sondergaard spoke of the changing shape of IT, saying that as IT becomes an established element of most business processes and individual activities, it is evolving into a specialised discipline in business.

"Certain functions may be taken as aspects of the business, so the remaining traditional IT functions will have to focus increasingly on efficiency and well defined levels of service," said the senior vice president.

Sondergaard warned that IT managers will quickly become irrelevant unless they select and purchase IT technology on the basis of improving business performance.