From Space Mountain to Internet Revolution 2: How Flexible IT Can Get You From Here to There
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I was reflecting on the five or six visits I've taken to Disneyworld here in Orlando, and would guesstimate that I've spent a good 95% of those visits locked up in the Dolphin or Swan hotels.
Of course, there were no Mickey Mouse antics going on yesterday, my second full day on the ground, at the Gartner Symposium. Hearkening back to Space Mountain, the day began with a 50K foot view from Gartner analysts on what they term as "The Second Internet Revolution" (but I just barely survived the first one! Can we stop it with the revolution stuff and lay down our arms??!") But alas, there is no armistice in sight, at least not this week. There are services to be built and processes to be modeled.
The essence of the session was this: Between now and 2010, expect to see entirely new life forms of programmable interactive applications, spanning multiple platforms, networks, and devices. (Oh, and throw in a couple of personalized intelligent search bots for good measure. They're cute and cuddly, and they can help you find stuff you didn't even know you were looking for).
Expect major shifts in both IT and the consumer behavioral landscape that will drive new opportunities across the board. The network effect we've seen from improvements in access, backbone, and applications (B2C commerce exploding, the broadband boom, demographic shifts, mobile computing...all causes of your typical everyday Internet paradigm shift) will drive this new revolution, and will provide the opportunity for breakout competitive gains by those organizations that start moving now to take advantage of this opportunity.
Great, you say, where do I sign up?
Standards All Around!
Not unlike AC and DC current, or common railroad gauges in the 1860s, or even, yes, the VHS videotape, the journey into this revolution begins with standards, which are already powering the B2B commerce explosion and are expected to power the coming boom in B2B trading efficiencies.
Remember Metcalfe's Law? It stated that the value of a network equals approximately the square of the number of users of the system. Well, we need a new one that states that the value of a service on the network equals approximately the square of the number of users of the system (Hey, can anybody come up with a good name for a new Law? The Internet kind, not the ones they pass in Congress). Okay, for now we'll just call it Metcalfe's Law Redux.
In this revolution, and under Metcalfe's Law Redux, no service can be an island, unless it wants to talk to itself...in which case, it has more in common with Wilson the Volleyball, Tom Hank's spherical buddy in "Castaway," than it does with an innovative, busi
But standards are only the beginning. This revolution will also require us to rethink how we conceptualize IT. It is going to be characterized by a Web-centric ecosystem, one whose participants benefit from one another's participation. Instead of a vertical stack of standalone, function-specific applications, though, this revolution will require a horizontal IT architecture, one that is uniquely positioned to adapt to the ever-changing demands of on demand business, and which will allow your trading partners, suppliers, customers, employees, and yes, sometimes even your competitors, to participate.
You pick the adjective: Flexible, resilient, adaptable...this insurrection will be driven by an IT environment taken straight out of the pages of the IT equivalent of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species." We must build environments and systems that, at the core of their IT DNA, are dynamic, adaptable, and consummately flexible.
Next post: How a services orientation can provide you with that flexibility.