Monday, November 24, 2008

2009 - year of bricolage

Tech Predictions 2009: Bricolage IT

You probably won’t be stunned by my prediction that 2009 looks like a bumpy year indeed. No matter how we put it, many IT departments will need to cut down on their costs. Applications and infrastructure will be consolidated, innovative projects may be on hold and the rest of the budget – if any – is likely to be spend on risk management, reporting and regulatory compliance.

Interesting enough, this may lead to an even stronger push to the phenomenon of Bricolage IT, particularly at the business side of organisations. Let me explain ‘Bricolage’ first: this is a typical French word that describes the art of using whatever is available – in a pragmatic way – to achieve a goal. ‘Do it yourself’ describes the same, but misses a bit the semantics of making the most of what you have, even if it is not that much.

I predict that the business side of organisations in 2009 will need new IT solutions to deal with the requirements of the market, particularly alluding to the downturn. However, the same downturn makes the central IT department even less responsive than it used to be: with a decreased budget and even less headroom to innovate, it will act more and more like the central Nay department.

Left to its own devices, the business side will look for alternatives – outside the scope of central IT and within the limits of their own, local budget -. And it may be in for a surprise, because a new wave of on-demand, software-as-a-service solutions is readily available, covering a considerable number of new grounds. They will enable Bricolage style applications that directly address the needs of market-facing units (some would call it Business Technology solutions). All without costing a fortune.

It may pertain to ‘office’ applications, like Google Apps but also to client relationship management (with established players and challengers), human resource management (talent management may be a crucial driver in 2009 and more solutions are supplied 'as-a-service'), collaboration and social networking platforms (they can be created in a snap), Business Intelligence (corporate performance management scorecards can be delivered through the browser) and of course, Mashups (impressive composite applications, built with just a few clicks). Users can even create, launch and monitor processes from their own iGoogle portal, supported by a business process management service.

Come to think of it, a petrified central IT department will have the business side turn to Do It Yourself IT. This may lead to some breakthrough innovations, that we would not have seen so quickly with sunny weather. Obviously, new concerns will arise, for example around integration and security. It will be a good challenge for IT to deal with that. Or even better: anticipate on it. In the meantime, if you are in desperate need for a solution and there is no support, you simply turn to what is available and make the best out of it. This is why the business side will make 2009 the year of Bricolage IT.

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