What Can IT Become When It Grows Up?

IT Has A Lot Of Potential; However We Still Don't Know What We Want To Be When We Grow Up
IT Has A Lot Of Potential; However We Still Don’t Know What We Want To Be When We Grow Up

So I love IT, and you love IT. We love the applications, the servers, the networks and, of course, the Internet. Whether it’s because we are closet control freaks or because we are fascinated by how all of the pieces fit together, we just love it. I’m not saying that love is a bad thing, but at the end of the day IT exists to help the company be successful ( = make more money).

Michael Vizard over at Ziff Davis has been thinking about our love life just a bit and he’s come up with some interesting thoughts about where we need to be taking this relationship.

In the end, it all revolves around data – or as we like to call it using fifty-cent words, information. By now, just about everybody realizes that there is no shortage of information (just take a look around your office: there are piles of information EVERYWHERE!) What is missing is knowledge – and the only way to get knowledge is to process all of that data and squeeze the knowledge out of it.

Michael believes that we in IT need to get our act together. The rest of the organization is waiting for us to provide them with the relevant knowledge that they need in order to make good decisions. This means that there are five IT developments that we need to do a good job of managing over the next few years in order to truely make IT valuable to the rest of the business:

  1. Locate A Good Search Tool: Just as we have too much information in our personal lives, so too do businesses have too much information stored in all of their different intranets. They may not be able to say it in so many words, but the rest of the business is desperately looking to IT to provide an enterprise search tool that will help them to find what they need.
  2. Smart Middleware: The days of logging into one application, entering data, and then logging into another application to enter the same data are soooo over. If I can upload my Microsoft Outlook email contact book into my new Gmail email account, then why can’t I load my product catalog into my marketing database just as easily? Smart middleware will allow all of a firm’s applications to share information and thereby will allow a complete view of the business to be provided.
  3. BI,BI Baby: Finally Business Intelligence tools have become powerful enough to mine those bloated databases and provide all sorts of different users with specific answers to detailed questions about what is working and what isn’t.
  4. The Blog Has Arrived: Remember all those fancy “knowledge management” applications that software firms tried to sell everyone back in the 90’s? It turns out that what we really needed was a good blogging platform and permission to  write our little hearts out. Once problems and solutions are blogged about, then the blogs can be mined by search tools and the information shared throughout the firm.
  5. Stop Repeating Yourself: If I worked for a storage company, these would be the best of times – everybody is storing everything. Deduplication software is only now starting to arrive which will allow us to just store one copy of everything and this should finally stop the storage madness.

Most firms now realize that IT will be a critical factor in their future success. It’s only by leveraging what IT can bring to the table that a firm can beat its competition while satisfying its customers. The challenge is that IT is going to have to find some way to bring all of these different technologies together in order to make the company successful. But that’s ok, because we love this stuff…

What enterprise search tool do you use today? How do you link your applications together (or do you)? Do you use BI tools? Is blogging permitted and supported in your department? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.