Forrester Research: Technology Populism?

ISIS Papyrus is a Silver Sponsor at Forrester’s Technology Leadership Forum in Orlando, September 23rd and 24th, 2008. The reason that we are attending is that the title and the subject is intriguing. Obviously we hope to meet many like-minded clients there. I will report about the event right here.

I was asked to blog on the subject of ‘Technology Populism’ by Forrester Research. What is Technology Populism? Forrester predicts that the rise of Web 2.0 will introduce unauthorized and potentially incompatible technologies into the workplace, emboldening users to disrupt IT status quo. Business users will demand tools to assemble and change systems with no prerequisite knowledge of the underlying infrastructure. They predict that this threatens to unravel the structure, predictability, and control that IT has over the workplace. Forrester: “Technology Populism is a wake-up call that forces information and knowledge management (I&KM) professionals to rethink how they currently evaluate, provision, and support collaborative software and services.”

Yes, time has come for a change. I have been heard to say similar things. I just don’t see Web 2.0 turning into Enterprise 2.0 in a way that will replace current knowledge management systems or disrupt IT infrastructure. I do see that functional concepts of Web 2.0 do make sense as part of a new enterprise platform. I believe however that it is not ‘technology’ that is popular! What is popular are the dynamic, user oriented, freely customizable interfaces and functions that people find today on the Internet and in Web 2.0 applications. Users could not care less about technology. People (and I for that matter) love the iPhone for what it does for them and not for the cool piece of technology that it actually is too.

I do agree that the problem is there. Users are demanding more of what they need from their IT departments. Why? Because they get complex, clunky, rigid, and out-of-date-and-style applications. They get business processes that tie them down instead of empowering them. They wait for years to get hard-wired product fragments. When they want something new they are told that they have to wait for some SOA infrastructure and then they need to spend 12 month to analyze their business processes, which from then on will be the last word on how work will be performed in future. Everything is outsourced and the outsourcer has no interest to change anything and if, he asks for a bundle that the business won’t spend. Agility is a myth! Users are simply no longer willing to play that game.

So I would not call it ‘Technology Populism’ but rather ‘IT User Rebellion‘.

Consider regulation, litigation and compliance. Unfortunately we can’t just do what we want. Therefore, ‘Technology Populism’ is out of the question. Maybe it is ok for the SMB marketplace and there it will soon all be SaaS in any case. In the large corporation it won’t happen. IT departments are already overwhelmed today with keeping content under control. In my previous post I wrote about the needs for ‘Retention and Records Management’ so how would that work if we embrace whatever product the users demand? We simply can’t. Legal won’t let us and if it might bring down the business if it gets sued.

What is then the future in my mind? Web 2.0 blogs and wikis are a cute sideline but lack sensible business functionality. Absolutely, business users will demand tools to assemble and change systems with no prerequisite knowledge of the underlying infrastructure. Why should they care about technology? IT has to hide that from them and get rid of some outdated IT principles first:

  1. Dump the silly idea of Best-of-Breed applications. They fragment the landscape.
  2. Dump standalone ECM, BPM, CRM, business rules, business intelligence and more.
  3. Never buy anything that employs hard-coded business processes or GUIs.
  4. Rather than outsourcing expensive programming, simply stop programming.
  5. NEVER change a product that is nearly right, use it AS-IS or don’t buy it.
  6. Get rid of office tools that create uncontrollable content without business context.
  7. Stop believing that running a business can be encoded into processes and rules.

Process must be about empowering people! Give the users a case management tool that allows them to be independent from IT in Web 2.0 style. Consolidate with an enterprisewide platform that allows your business users to create AND ADAPT customer focused processes themselves with all the related content under IT supervision. To stay compliant you need systems that provide full auditing, retention management, and embedded security. To make it work you need scalable distributed processing, centrally managed and versioned application metadata, business rules, rich browser front ends, as well as flexible data federation into business processes without enforcing SOA and not even XML. You need complex business event discovery and machine learning algorithms to get rid of those huge analysis efforts and never ending programming projects. Are these systems a dream or another myth? No, they are out there. Just open your eyes!

Yup, I agree with Forrester that you will need guts to do something different and new. True innovation is being asked for. But is jumping on the Web 2.0 bandwagon really innovation? I don’t think so. Bandwagons are for the meek, for the people that lack imagination and guts. They all do it, so it can’t be wrong …

For once in your life, stand up and do something really new!!!

One Comment on “Forrester Research: Technology Populism?

  1. Hi Max!
    Thank you so much for this post. We are working on creating our highlights post of this blog, once it is ready a link will be sent your way.

    Have a good one.
    Thanks,
    alexis Karlin

    Like

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