I always like to keep up with what Dion Hinchcliffe’s thinking and recently he’s been talking about How the Web OS has begun to reshape IT and business, and particularly about how businesses are driving the change almost by accident, in spite of the IT department.
These days in the halls of IT departments around the world there is a growing realization that the next wave of outsourcing, things like cloud computing and crowdsourcing, are going to require responses that will forever change the trajectory of their current relationship with the business, or finally cause them to be relegated as a primarily administrative, keep-the-lights-on function.
What Dion describes really aligns with what I’m seeing in lots of companies and their IT departments. For many IT departments there seems to be a feeling of “if we just ignore it, ban it, or block it then it will all go away”.
The issue of what I tend to refer to as the shadow IT department is beginning to loom large. This shadow department offers many of the IT department’s capabilities, but they are accessible by ordinary business users outside of the normal IT and procurement channels.
Once upon a time the IT department were the custodians of technology. Selection, implementation of new systems and access to them was like joining a mystery cult. New users were indoctrinated into special language and special ways of making things work. The IT department staff were the high priests of the cult and they controlled access very strictly.
All this was reinforced by the high cost and complexity of IT systems.
But now technology has undergone a revolution. And it is a revolution akin to those of the Russians back in 1917. We are living through a sudden change in accessibility of technology. With web 2.0 and social computing ordinary users now have access to the same kind of technology that was once the province of the high priests of the IT department.
Everything you need is at your fingertips, for example:
- Want a scalable web platform? Amazon S3 is there.
- Want to reach out and find your customers? Try Facebook or Twitter.
- Want a CRM to track all those customers? How about Salesforce?
- Need a finance application? How about Saasu?
Each of those examples is readily available to the average person who can use a web browser & who has a credit card. No more seeking the advice (even if it might help) of the IT specialist. Just notice the need and get a solution right away.
I wonder how all of this fits into our fine Enterprise Architecture models?