One transformation is usually plenty for technology markets, and truth be told we don’t even have a great track record managing a single driver of change. Next year, we’re going to have to get smarter, because four distinct transformations are happening, and the sum of their impacts will shape the year.
Narrowing the Gap
The first transformation is the narrowing of the distance between IT and workers. This isn’t a new trend; we can map the changes this force has created all the way back to the 1950s. Computing used to take place on massive mainframes tended by acolytes in suits and capturing business activity by keypunching activity records created manually. With the cloud, we can push computing forward to intervene in the way people work, and that’s huge.
Business has up to now focused on processing transactions, which are packaged records of a desired step, like a sale or shipment. If you think about it, transaction-think means that information systems are setting a framework for workers -- they have to produce transactions. Transactions also structure work into a series of offline steps that lead to a single message exchange. That message exchange has to be very quick because by this time the worker has done those other steps and is just waiting around.
The cloud and smartphones are combining to push worker support into those steps that used to be offline. We may still have a culminating result, but it’s coached along by network and computer support of the work process. That incremental work-process support is the enabler of our second transformation -- that being the decomposition of applications into services.
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