Big screen heroes belittle real-life IT (again)

Hollywood's to blame for users' "unrealistic" expectations of IT, according to an analyst who also warned programmers are in for a very tough time.

If you're sick of users querying why files take more than half a millisecond to download or why their keyboard is not 'intuitive', that is, able to 'sense' which keys the user meant to strike, thus eliminating the use of the backspace key, then according to PricewaterhouseCoopers executive Terry Retter, Hollywood is the villain.

Retter, director of strategy and technical program for PwC Technology Centre, said movies like Mission Impossible display great technology on the screen, leading users to expect it in the office and at home.

"Users want a robust, ubiquitous, fast and easy environment. And [as a result of Hollywood] there is significant disconnect in expectations."

Retter said during a briefing on findings published in the latest PwC Technology Forecast: 2002-2004, Volume 1: Navigating The Future of Software, enterprise architecture has evolved from mainframes to client/server computing to Web-based computing, currently state of the art, and will progress in the future to services-based computing.

"Each change in technology architecture has enabled significant changes in the business processes.

"[For example] the legacy of the dotcom era focused businesses on extending the automation of business processes between the enterprise and suppliers and customers."

Retter said we are now returning to "innovation" in technology. The move to the next architecture Web-based and services-based computing is well under way.

As a result new operating environments, development tools and user interfaces will be required to deal with the increased complexity and abstraction.

"Developers will have to work hard as they don't yet have the efficiency tools. Skill sets will also have to change. This will be a very difficult time for programmers.

To sum up the future of software, Retter said the future is components.

"The gold rush is over and the next gold rush is starting with the conservative principles of profit.

"Vendors need to add value [to their offerings]. They have sold to their top clients. [Now] they are focusing towards componentisation so they are able to sell down to the mid-market."

Most major packaged application vendors, including leading ERP vendors, have re-implemented their products as components or are in the process of doing so. As vendors incorporate support for one or more of the major component architectures into their products, it should become possible for customers to construct their own application suites by combining components from several vendors.

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