Choosing and purchasing business applications continues to move to the business side of the house. Here's what to expect in the new world order.
3. IT's Role Is Changing.
This, for IT, is an "adapt or die" moment. IT is becoming less about implementing technology and even more about helping their organizations find innovative ways to use tech to achieve business goals. The IT professional's role is moving from a technologist to a business strategist. Over time, many of the technology development, maintenance and deployment roles will be performed by the software or cloud infrastructure vendors and not in corporations. This is -- and one has to be wary of such assertions -- surely a paradigm shift.
4. Hardware Will Shift With Software.
Because hardware exists to make software possible, it will go where the software goes, in this case to cloud providers and software vendors. This will drive two changes for hardware vendors. First, a portion of hardware customers will change from corporate IT to software vendors and cloud service providers. Because the software vendors take responsibility for the infrastructure they -- or cloud infrastructure partners -- will be buying more of the hardware in the future. Second, the infrastructure they deploy will need to be on a very different scale than is typical in corporate IT, capable of managing an enormous number of users. For cloud software vendors to make money, they need to aggregate as many customers as they can. The infrastructure will be on an Internet scale, not on a corporate scale.
5. Security, Regulatory Compliance, Availability, Privacy Will Still Be Problems.
When someone buys from a cloud application vendor, there needs to be a lot of trust -- trust that the vendor will maintain a highly secure, highly available environment; trust that there will be a way to place a legal hold on data and ensure regulatory compliance; trust that the software vendor, now holding mission-critical information, will continue to support the application the company relies on or won't simply go out of business.
This is another instance where strategic IT is critically important. IT professionals are the ones who have the training, experience and knowledge to ask the right questions and assess the answers. They know whether a particular application aligns with all of a company's needs, not just the surface needs of a functional unit of the business. The non-IT buyer might not consider these factors and instead buy an application that doesn't really support the business.
Knowledge workers are feeling empowered enough by their experiences with sophisticated consumer software to buy business applications at work, sometimes with the blessing of the IT department. For managers especially, waiting months for an IT-delivered solutions seems a waste of time when they can get most of what they need in a browser from a cloud application vendor. And the risk of purchasing your own cloud applications continues to diminish as large enterprise business applications such as SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft continue to make their top business applications available using a cloud subscription model.
The non-IT buyer trend will continue into the future and have a profound effect on the relationship between IT, vendors and end users. IT will always be relevant as the technology guides for the companies, providing strategic advisement. It will especially be needed to evaluate vendors on technical dimensions and help ensure business-technology alignment.
Programmers will always find a place designing and writing specialized code and building integration points between applications that vendors do not provide. For many in corporate IT, however, their role as technologists will diminish.
Software vendors will need to understand their new customers better. This is true for vendors who need to understand more deeply the non-IT buyer and hardware vendors adapting their products, service and sales practices to giant cloud companies where downtime means not one angry company but thousands.
There is still time for IT to manage this transition. IT policy needs to address the inevitable knowledge worker-empowerment issue. Creating guidelines to allow safe buying habits will certainly help. Corporate application stores, which allow knowledge workers to choose preapproved applications that are safe and secure, are either nonexistent or unknown to knowledge workers. IT should consider establishing and promoting these app stores because they represent an obvious method of meeting both the needs of the corporation and the needs of knowledge worker.
Finally, creating a partnership between knowledge workers, vendors and IT is essential to stemming chaos in future corporate business applications. IT has the opportunity to take the lead and become the internal partner that empowered knowledge workers and companies desire.
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