Delphi Head: Uncertain Economy Has Its Good Points

President of the consulting firm says decision makers have to think on a shorter-term cycle than they're accustomed to.
The persistently fickle economy has businesses operating in a state of uncertainty, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. So says Thomas Koulopoulos, president of the Delphi Group research firm. In a keynote address at a Delphi summit in San Diego, Koulopoulos told an audience of IT execs Monday that companies can create intellectual liquidity amid the uncertainty by providing highly personalized views of their information assets.

But he's also aware that this requires corporate decision makers to think on a shorter-term cycle than they're accustomed to. "This isn't a 10-year future," he said. "It's a three-month future."

And we're not talking about your generic intranet that can be customized to become Koulopoulos maintains that in order to deliver the kind of personalized work environment that will bring true value, companies must move away--and are moving away--from dependence on monolithic enterprise applications. Instead, he foresees business architectures that offer what he calls virtual apps that are actually an integrated assortment of the application components needed by a particular employee.

Sybase Inc. recognizes this trend and is focused on creating products that can be used to build portals without programming, resulting in applications that are more usable to a wider audience of employees. Bob Breton, senior director of product strategy for Sybase's E-business division, followed Koulopoulos' comments by telling attendees to expect more overlapping of integration technologies, applications, and portal-building tools, all in the name of improved personalization at the employee's desktop, rather than dependence on standalone Web-based apps. "We're finding that the Web didn't actually solve all of the world's problems."

Koulopoulos said that, in essence, it comes down to filtering through the noise to provide employees with job-specific tools. He illustrated his point by telling of how Alexander the Great once approached Diogenes and asked what he could do for the philosopher. Diogenes' response? "Only stand out of my light." That, Koulopoulos said, is what employees have been asking for all along: "Give me the light to do my job."

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