Mike Leach, who worked as Facebook's architect of CRM and platform applications up until August this year, warned his peers to wake up to the reality of the shrinking role of the IT department.
Leach was commenting on Marc Benioff's keynote speech at Salesforce's Dreamforce event in San Francisco, which included reference to a Gartner statistic that predicted chief marketing officer's will spend more on IT by 2017 than chief information officers.
"It is contentious to predict that IT will be obsolete in twenty years' time. However, you have to at least acknowledge that the trend is a reality," said Leach.
"The role of IT will remerge, but it is going to be more of a systems integrator (SI) role. SI is going to be the core function that organisations have to maintain and I think the [CIO] job title will change to something along the line of product manager."
He added: "Lines of business will gravitate to where they see success, if they see success in the market with a company, they will go there. IT in the future needs to understand where these success trends are occurring and be a [guiding influence] of where the business will go."
Leach's comments were made during a panel discussion on whether companies should build their own custom applications using Salesforce's development platform, or whether they should buy in applications on the AppExchange.
Steve Mandelbaum, VP of information systems at The Advisory Board Company (ABC), a research and consulting firm that helps hospital and university executives better serve patients and students, was also on the panel and described how he had rolled out Salesforce to more than 1,300 active users, where ABC is developing a number of custom applications.
However, he warned other companies that if they choose to buy in applications, rather than develop bespoke ones, they should not assume protection from vendor support.
"You make the assumption that if you buy in applications, a vendor will support it. That's true if the vendor is good at support, but if they are shitty (can we say this?) at support then you are really in trouble because you don't know how it works," said Mandelbaum
"We have purchased systems in the past where the vendor wasn't good at support, or wasn't very responsive, and my hands have been tied. I wasn't actually able to do anything."
"This meant that I was in a worse situation than if I had actually built it myself. I don't necessarily believe in the analysis that if you buy it, it will be supported."