According to WikiQuote it was Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher known for his doctrine of change being central to the universe, who coined the phrase “the only constant is change”. Having spent my career in the IT industry I’ve seen a lot of change, and I’m thrilled at what can be achieved now that would have seemed a pipe dream just a few years ago.
The era of posting off my order and “expect 28 days for delivery” is, thankfully, a distant memory, while today internet banking gives me so much more control. But there’s a growing force that makes me a little uncomfortable – social media.
I wanted to start this blog on BCW to help martial my thoughts around our highly connected world – and to give me the confidence to play catch-up with my daughters. Though Dad being “cool” is probably just another pipe dream.
Evolution or revolution?
Predominantly IT has brought a way of automating a lot of very complicated processes –an evolution. I could have gone to the library to look up that quotation, or I could have phoned around to see if anyone I know is a secret ancient Greek geek. But it’s a lot quicker with Google.
This evolution has predominantly been driven by business to deliver products and services faster and cheaper. But I find myself thinking now that there is a real revolution happening which dramatically affects IT within business. My daughters and their contemporaries are at the forefront of today’s era of change, and I’m not just talking about the alarming rise in injuries through injudicious texting whilst moving.
Technology has provided the tools by which people can find out about anything at any time, no matter where they are. So we’re now in an era of instant gratification where individuals expect access to services whenever, wherever and however is favourable to them.
Organisations have begun to respond to this demand by delivering always-on services and apps that give direct and flexible access to systems and processes inside the enterprise. And the key thing here is that organisations are responding to user demands.
For example, my daughters download new apps all the time, which get deleted in no time if they’re rubbish. “You only get one chance to make a first impression” is such an apt expression here. Organisations have to respond by managing a balance between speed of delivery and quality to ensure that users don’t pass on to the next provider.
So it’s users who are now driving the requirements for access to services, how processes are linked and even how apps are developed. Even the UK government has realised that the user should be put at the centre, responding with a new focus on user feedback and rapid software iterations (UK IT Services Tender).
So how are we coping with the revolution?
Uncomfortably in many cases I believe. “Traditional” development processes, for example, with maybe four deliveries per year are just not suited to user expectations of app updates in hours rather than months. How will velocity and quality be balanced? What are the security implications of giving public access to internal systems? Where are new apps going to be deployed?
And how should different business applications be linked so that a nice, simple app can be used by consumers without having to refer to a manual? To many development teams and IT departments these issues seem alarming. However, with the right approach and supporting tools – a new style of IT – this can become an exciting and rewarding challenge.
What do you think?
Do you agree that there is a revolution happening that will dramatically affect IT? Are there related changes going on already in your organisation and are your development teams apprehensive about, or relishing the challenge? How will your IT department cope with supporting the business today? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Next month I’m going to look at how teenagers have pushed themselves firmly into the driving seat for IT in business. In the meantime leave a comment with your thoughts here, or get in touch on Twitter – I need all the followers I can get… my daughters are starting to take the mickey!