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We’re on the verge of a new era in IT. Web 2.0, E2.0, SOA 2.0: anything 2.0, which I combinedly call IT 2.0
My first IT experiences dating back 25 years, I’ve noticed that it basically provides humans with machines. Or more accurately, human tasks are slowly replaced by machine tasks where possible
It takes time to turn human tasks into machine tasks, so basically they shouldn’t change while being built. They also shouldn’t change much after being built. That’s why building houses on sand was considered foolish millennia ago already.
It’s almost exactly like portrait painting. It’s a lot easier doing that when the model sits still, and when done the result looks much more alike if the model doesn’t change too much after that
Knowing the how, now the question is: which human tasks can be replaced by machines, or automated?
The closer you come to business, the more humans you’ll need. The further you move away from business, the more machines you can use. Basically, business needs people, and machine needs infrastructure
That puts humans on top in the IT foodchain, and machines at the bottom. Although arguably both depend on one another and couldn’t live without…
Having said that, there are lots of different properties for humans and machines. Here’s a quick model:
Machines serve automation. They are (and must be) rigid, because what runs directly on top is simple and static: great for storing business rules, they handle data very well. They sit in the infrastructure layer
Humans serve people. They are (and must be) flexible, because what they support is complex and dynamic: great for handling business exceptions, they handle information very well. They are part of the business layer
If you compare that to the latest trends, machines perfectly translate to Cloud, and humans to Social
IaaS, Paas and Saas all perfectly fit into the infrastructure layer mentioned above thanks to virtualisation and Utility Computing.
What can be xaaS-ed will be done so in the coming years, and albeit a relatively small slice of the enterprise layer, a large part of its current infrastructure will simply move into the cloud.
And in the years after that, a larger part of the enterprise will become infrastructure, and follow along: Invisible Infostructure is becoming an ever-increasing fact
The enterprise will become more standardised and simple at the bottom, and shrink
Social is 100% people-stuff and fits perfectly into the business layer. Communication (Blogs, Microblogging, Social networking) and Collaboration (Wikis, Social bookmarking, Social news) are tools that need to be plugged into the enterprise. Tools will come and go, be added onto, expanded, shrunk, and the people using them will move along. Process-on-the-fly is here to stay
Organisationally, culturally, politically a lot will change and it will keep changing before more than half of that becomes absorbed by the enterprise, and settles down.
The enterprise will become more complex at the top, and expand
Sketching the future, one can see the structure of IT 2.0 being sandwiched: at the bottom, the floor of the building will slowly be Clouded, while at the same time its ceiling will be Socialised. Two giant movements in opposite directions, much like tectonic plates operate on this earth’s crust
Where will the twain meet? What will be there? Will that be crushed, or torn apart?
What will the consequences be for Enterprise IT as we know it, but especially for the future we have in mind for it: E2.0, SOA 2.0, SocialCRM?
I’m looking forward to your answers and ideas! I do foresee quite a challenge

Martijn Linssen is Enterprise Integration Architect within Capgemini. You can find him at martijnlinssen.com