Populism will drive the next IT wave

Consumer devices and social networking will be among the drivers

The next wave of change within IT organisations will be fuelled by the proliferation of consumer devices, social networking tools, and cloud-based collaboration services making their way into the enterprise, according to a report by Forrester Research.

What Forrester calls technology populism will force information and knowledge management professionals to rethink how they currently evaluate, provision, and support collaborative software and services. This sea change will present IT departments with a number of opportunities and challenges that will upend the traditional way that technology is deployed.

"Technology populism is driven by people's needs to interact," said Forrester analyst Matthew Brown. "Today's organisations are increasingly dominated by Generation Xers and Millennials, a workforce that is adept at provisioning its own technology and one that is willing to shun traditional methods of communication. For many employees, the telephone and e-mail are being replaced by text messaging, instant messaging, and mobile devices, such as iPhones and BlackBerrys, and social computing tools like Facebook and Wikipedia."

"One leading technology vendor told Forrester that one of its clients required Sony Playstation support because many of its younger employees used Playstations instead of PCs," said Brown.

Other drivers behind Technology Populism include:

  • Cheap broadband at home and work. Nearly 50 per cent of North American households have a broadband connection, and the Web continues to develop into the preferred platform for two-way communication and collaboration.

  • According to Forrester, 15 per cent of North American adults use social networking sites on at least a monthly basis and 34 per cent communicate via instant message as frequently.

  • A new generation of applications based on network interactions. Companies are learning how to exploit services such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and salesforce.com for business purposes to generate sales leads, recruit talent, and test and improve products.

  • IT views Web 2.0 favourably. Despite popular opinion, IT leaders support Web 2.0 technologies in the workplace: A recent Forrester study showed that 72 per cent of IT departments were using some form of Web 2.0 technology.

    "Technology populism is here to stay -- it is bigger than a single company or software provider," said Brown.

    Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report

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