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9 Critical Trends For Innovative IT: InformationWeek 500

Learn from our analysis of this year's top business technology teams. They're masters of today's key issues--from making IT part of the product to cashing in on cloud computing.

2. The Consumerization Of IT Isn't A Free-For-All

Let's be careful about what we mean when we talk about the "consumerization of IT." There's zero doubt that consumer technology is driving innovation, and it's putting a lot of pressure on IT teams to let people use consumer devices and apps at work. IT organizations must start delivering business IT that's as powerful and easy to use as the stuff employees use at home.

The consumerization litmus test has been whether companies let employees use their personal smartphones for work. In another survey this year, InformationWeek found that 63% of respondents' companies let employees connect personal devices to the company network. IT shops that maintain a blanket ban are running out of excuses. The U.S. Army is experimenting with iPhones and Android smartphones for troops in the field. Your company's information is more sensitive than theirs?

But the IW 500 research suggests the consumerization of IT isn't an anything-goes environment. When we asked about Web technologies in use, just 28% say they encourage employees to use consumer-oriented applications they find useful. That's barely changed from two years ago (25% in 2009) and down from 2008 (30%). "Bring your own device" is becoming commonplace in corporate polices; "bring your own apps" is not.

3. Enterprise 2.0: Collaboration, Yes; Integration, No

As with the consumerization of IT, let's distinguish between what is and isn't taking off in what's known as Enterprise 2.0. Business collaboration is changing dramatically thanks to Web and consumer technology. Remember when wikis and blogs were an experiment? In 2009 just 42% of IW 500 companies used wikis, blogs, or social networking tools to collaborate with customers, suppliers, and partners. Today, 77% do. That's about as fast as we've ever seen a technology area move from experiment to standard operating procedure.

But integration isn't changing at the same pace. In particular, the whole notion of mashups--easy integration of Web-based data streams--has sputtered. We used to talk about mashups with great anticipation, looking forward to the day when people would easily combine different data sources in creative new ways. Government IT leaders often cite the potential of mashups built by citizens as they make more public data Web accessible.

Yet just 46% of IW 500 companies say they're combining Web content, enterprise content, and apps in new ways. That's little changed from a year ago (48%) and 2009 (42%). When people talk about mashups, they almost invariably cite integration with Google Maps, which has indeed yielded some very nifty apps. But Google Maps mashups might turn out to be the exception, not the start of a big new integration trend.

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