Will the Web or Business IT change first? And is it IT at all?

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It’s the annual World Wide Web conference in Edinburgh and the place is humming with excitement about a hundred new ideas, capabilities and products. It’s hard not to get excited and I frankly have to confess that my non corporate side has caught the excitement. My presentation is to explain how business is using, and […]

It’s the annual World Wide Web conference in Edinburgh and the place is humming with excitement about a hundred new ideas, capabilities and products. It’s hard not to get excited and I frankly have to confess that my non corporate side has caught the excitement.

My presentation is to explain how business is using, and will make more use of the Web, actually it is more accurately subtitled, why Business isn’t using the Web more, and it’s a big shock to the ‘Webitizens’, (those who live on the Web) who are present. However it succeeds in its objectives and gets a great discussion going from which I think we all emerged somewhat wiser from the interaction.
So what was my controversial argument? The whole concept of the Web is fundamentally opposed in every respect to the current operational requirements of IT within an Enterprise, and that’s why Enterprises a) are not using the Web as much, or in the same way as home users, and b) are not interested in the global excitement of the thousands of highly skilled people who are creating a new set of Web functions and capabilities, loosely defined as Web 2.0 to cover some of the shortcoming of Web. Its gets worse, because the very shortcomings that Web 2.0 is looking to address actually extend the concepts of use that the Enterprise CIO likes least!
Does that mean I believe that the Web is failing to change to address business requirements? Not at all, my belief is its business that is the one that is going to have to change to meet the new expectations from both customers, and employees. The Web will change, or more accurately will carry on changing, the world and that’s the force that will change Business IT, not an internal debate on how to build solutions. But what’s the real issue that makes corporate IT uncomfortable?
Internal IT systems are mostly closed around proprietary systems, transaction oriented, built round machines and data, the Web is open, standardised, messaging oriented built around users and information. That’s just for starters, add in the issues of security, a wide variety of devices supported and the fact that the Web is constantly and dynamically changing to support new ideas and functions, and it’s not too hard to grasp the real issue. Its user/role based interactions versus enterprise based/procedures and transactions.
It’s not Information Technology at all, that term belongs to the phase when we learnt how to deal with the disruptive technology of the PC in a positive manner that contributed to the capabilities of the Enterprise, no, it’s something else. A disruptive change for sure, and it needs a new term to describe it, and some clever thinking about how to incorporate it into an Enterprise in a manner that brings a whole new set of benefits. What really interests me is that I am not at all sure that it is ‘? Technology’, I think it might just be ‘People Services’, the ubiquitous provisioning of a certain basic level of support at a level with pens, and paper.
Comments or thoughts welcomed!!

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