Business Technology: Forecasts Of IT's Death Are Premature
It's not over. Not by a long shot.
Those who would forecast the end of IT are about as right as the bright bulb who said a century ago that the Patent Office should be closed because everything that could be invented had, in fact, already been invented.
It's not over.
Is Microsoft's crowning achievement going to be PowerPoint? Is Dell predicting that it can double in size over the next several years by selling nothing but the products it has today? Did IBM buy PricewaterhouseCoopers' consulting business because it wants those employees to write Cobol and run cooling pipes under raised floors? General Motors CIO Ralph Szygenda spearheaded the company's efforts to shorten the time from concept to availability from five years to 18 months, and in so doing probably saved the company from permanent irrelevance. Is his job finished?
It is not over.
A recent InformationWeek Research study on Real-Time Business revealed that companies today are monitoring in real time about 80 processes and other metrics. Those same companies say that a year from now, that number will triple. Why is that? Is it because there's enormous value in gathering, analyzing, distributing, and acting upon information relevant to your market? Is it because companies will be more successful if they're able to move at the speed of their customers?
It seems to me you hate the one thing that is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. ... See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. You know it always will.
-- U.S. District Judge William Young, in sentencing terrorist "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid [thanks to reader Chris Ridley for this submission]
And just how will that growth in real-time capability happen--is it a matter of going out and buying a software package? Some new servers and a few storage cabinets? New clocks? FedEx CIO Rob Carter says his company is in the business of "engineering time"--is FedEx as good at that now as it's ever going to get? Is it going to disband its team of intense business technologists because it's too hard to keep improving, too hard to figure out what tomorrow might bring, too hard to innovate and compete and deliver enhanced value to customers and stakeholders?
It is not over.
If my proof for that contention were only my own addled hallucinations, you'd be well served to get this page onto the bottom of the bird cage or litter box even faster than usual. But the proof goes far deeper than that.
Let me use as one example two young gentlemen with whom I had dinner last week. They work in the business-technology group of an extremely high-growth young company in the transportation sector that in the past three years has grown from about 300 employees to 4,500. When the subject of the current funk and gloom came up, they began describing the impact technology has had, is having, and most definitely will continue to have on their company and on their company's customers. Their stories were crammed with allusions to business processes, customer touchpoints, customer expectations, business processes, innovation, disdain for the willful acceptance of mediocrity masquerading as conventional wisdom, and, lest I forget, business processes. To say they were passionate about their profession is like saying Barry Bonds can hit a baseball.
And the future--whether the next 10 months or 10 years--of this business is right there: the linkage of human behavior and activities with the inherent capability of IT. Business process meets business technology. "IT professional" becomes customer advocate, agent of change, team leader, innovator.
No, it most certainly is not over. In fact, it's only the beginning.
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