Results from a new study commissioned by CA Technologies show that the rise of cloud computing is pushing IT professionals into more strategic roles within their organizations, allowing them more of an opportunity to drive innovation.

The survey was conducted by IDG Research Services and polled 200 IT managers in the U.S. and Europe. A majority of respondents—96 percent—said they believe the role of IT pros has changed in the past five years, and 50 percent of those surveyed attribute that shift to an increase in cloud-based services that were formerly managed in-house.

The survey supports the thinking that the role of IT professionals is moving from that of the operator of IT infrastructure to the manager of the IT supply chain—and that the emergence of the cloud allows IT pros to focus more on developing and applying technology strategically.

Respondents said they believe cloud computing accelerates their agility (63 percent), innovation (58 percent) and collaboration with the business (57 percent). Fifty-five percent said they anticipate cloud computing will boost IT productivity, and 40 percent said it will decrease the level of staff time and resources dedicated to IT support.  More than half (60 percent) of respondents said demand for personnel with expertise in cloud computing has increased in the last five years, and 63 percent expect demand to grow over the next two years.

CA obviously has a vested interest in cloud computing because of the technology solutions it supplies, but the results of the study are consistent with sentiment of most supporters of cloud computing—that being able to offload functions to the cloud frees up critical time and focus for IT professionals, giving them the opportunity to be strategic and apply technology to their firms.