IT Must Tackle Five Trends, Analyst Group Says

Five factors will change the way that IT organizations operate, according to Gartner Inc. The points of change cited by the research firm include Web 2.0-style applications, software as a service (SaaS), global-class computing, the "consumerization" of IT and open source software.

The five factors will have a synergistic effect, according to Tom Austin, Gartner's vice president, who refers to them as "discontinuities."

"The five major discontinuities have the potential to completely disrupt vendor business models, user deployment models, whole market segments, and key user and vendor brand assumptions...," he stated in a Gartner announcement. "These emerging discontinuities reinforce each other, and their combined effort will prove far stronger than each individual trend."

IT management needs to make long-term plans to incorporate the trends, he added.

Hosted software delivery, or SaaS, is already allowing business units to act independently of IT strategies. It's enabling globally available online systems that companies can use to scale IT operations. SaaS is also changing the competitive field for software vendors. Systems that can be accessed from anywhere in the world, such as Google's online office software, have the potential to upset the balance of power between IBM and Microsoft in messaging services, according to Gartner's announcement.

Consumerization of IT is a phenomenon where users expect to see the same apps and level of service at work as at home. It has become a source of frustration for IT departments. Business users expect faster service of IT, comparable with that available from Internet vendors.

Web 2.0 communities, such as MySpace and wikis, connect people in ways that many companies hadn't anticipated when they began to develop their online strategies.

Finally, Gartner analysts consider the trend of using open source software to be a catalyst. It will allow these developments to develop and propagate.

Gartner recommends five actions to help IT professionals take advantage of these trends:

  • Question IT core assumptions. Users have become more independent in recent years when it comes to IT needs. Businesses should reevaluate their strategies.
  • Experiment with free-form environments. "Social environments" are the wave of the future. Companies should provide interactive tools, such as content tagging systems, RSS feeds, blogs, wikis, etc.
  • Help customers innovate. IT managers should encourage their users to interact in open environments, since this practice leads to innovation.
  • Segment users. IT support is not identical for all users; some users will have different requirements. IT managers should segment users into categories based on experience, responsibilities, application access requirements and roles in the enterprise.
  • Don't provide everything. IT's traditional responsibility for supporting and managing all IT systems that workers use should be loosened. In the end, the user should be responsible for experimenting with new software and communities.

About the Author

Will Kraft is a Web designer, technical consultant and freelance writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. Also, check out his blog at