Whatever happens next, IT is going to be right down the middle of it in a big way. Not traditional, monolithic, accounting system type IT, but real-time, agile, pay-as-you-go-go-go IT. The future belongs to the agile.
We have run up some huge debts (but can we say we're surprised?) and after we finish sorting stuff out, we will still be faced with a world that is absolutely rocketing along. Never a dull moment, things aren’t slowing down one bit, markets morphing faster than ever. Companies need to get good at responding to new opportunities if they want to make a profit and that means they need a constant stream of new (or evolving) systems to support their business moves.
Technology and business operations are so tightly intertwined, there is no meaningful distinction between the two; you just can’t do business without technology. But the way companies use technology just changed.
The trick now is to figure out how to leverage whatever IT infrastructure each company already has in place, and otherwise to take a break for a while from any more large projects that involve lots of custom coding and/or rollout of big application system packages (that means just about anything with a three letter acronym). Instead start building new systems using cloud computing, software-as-a-service, web portals, mashups and services oriented architecture to include existing infrastructure as needed.
Because loans and credit will be harder to get and will cost more, lots of companies will respond by turning formerly fixed costs for IT operations into variable costs. Nobody wants to commit lots of money to long term projects and long term operations anymore, why should they when the future is so hard to predict? But when people see a chance to make money, they always have cash for needed systems as long as those systems can be put into operation in 30-60-90 day iterations and start delivering value to pay back the money spent on each iteration.
As more and more of those systems go into operation, and because they are composed of IT architecture components with a pay-as-you-go cost structure, companies will shift from fixed cost to variable cost IT operating models. This shift has big implications for IT vendors, IT consultants, and in-house IT groups.
This is the way the wind is blowing and there are lots of opportunities for all three groups, but sailing against the wind is going to be hard. And this shift will probably happen faster than we think (as in maybe it's happening right now). Consider that we’ve already been talking a lot about Web 2.0, social computing, software-as-a-service, cloud computing, mashups and portals for the last couple of years.
Just as we talked a lot about sub-prime loans and the credit crisis for the last couple of years. And suddenly that shift happened. There is another shift happening. Maybe now is even the time to put some money down on companies that could profit from this trend, stock prices are low right now…
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