Thursday, January 31, 2008

Are you ready for the next IT boom?

You may be thinking that I am reading the title...especially in the context of a recession fears.

I strongly believe that the next peak for IT is in waiting because of following reasons..

1. Now that outsourcing and offshoring is proven and given, what the companies in US would want to do?. If they have cut down costs by outsourcing, able to demand more value from offshore vendors, what would they do with that extra money?. Ideally, if you are outsourcing your non-core activities, your core should start to improve. Is it really happening?. Are the companies thinking about Growth, now that productivity is almost taken care?. Are there are any new generation companies that have come up in the last 10 years?.

The answer is NO. Why?. The economy is red. Though the companies have mastered the skill of outsourcing and negotiation, they are yet to master the skill in various areas like - IT value measurement, Enterprise Architecture, Business Transformation using IT.

2. US is importing more than exporting. If US has to export to other countries, it needs a globalized thinking. It needs to think about Globalized Products and Services in Emerging countries. How do they do that?. More and more MNCs are opening shops in emerging countries. The only way they can reduce the time to market their products/services ahead of competitors is using IT.

3. Irrespective of the countries or economy, there are universal issues like health and poverty. IT can play a huge role in solving some of the critical problems in this universal problem areas.

4. The Enterprise IT is still complex. Though there are few innovations like SaaS, etc. They are in the process of maturing and more innovations need to follow to make the IT landscape simpler.

Now, if there is a slowdown in IT, it is only interim. And when things change for the good, the leaders will be racing ahead of rest of others. So, slowdown/recession is good that it makes people to think and introspect to come up with new ways of doing business/new products and services that would solve real problems.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photoshop & Mashups

Recently, my management wanted me to present a formal photograph for the organization brochure. Formal includes a blazer and a tie.

When most of the leaders including myself presented the photographs on time, one person couldn't submit it ontime due to various reasons.

But, He managed to get a photograph with a blazer, but without a tie.

At the same time, He managed to submit the formal photograph wearing a tie.

You want to know how he did it?

He used Photo Editor and digitally borrowed a tie from a fellow collegue's photograph and fixed in his photograph and saved it.

And nobody could identify this change. The photo was as precise and close to real.

OK, Why am talking about all these?

When I heard this story, immediately I felt it is a 'Mashup'. And in this case, the person who did the photo editing was from non-technical background.

That is exactly the purpose of Mashups, isn't it?. It should enable the non-technical users to do a plug-and-play, mix-match of data sources and services to provide a totally new business solution.

So, We have all been doing mashups knowingly or unknowingly...

And, am sure, when we have a platform that provides a seamless interface for business people to drag-and-drap, mix-and-match, the vision for business mashups will get realized.

I can visualize the future enterprise IT, where the IT department will only do Mashups / Composites. No more App development. No more Service Development, either.

Monday, January 21, 2008

J2EE losing the enterprise IT battle?

Slowly but clearly, Java as a platform for building enterprise applications is fading. One of the primary reasons is that, since the maturity cycle of Java platform to get new features added, is prolonged, the vendors went ahead and added their own properietary versions of features into the platform. This lead to vendor lock-in on one side.

On another side, to fill this maturity gap, the open source communities evolved and provided their own versions of solutions. Again, there is multitude of open source frameworks in Java that solves the same problem in different ways.

Another disruptor is SOA. How J2EE platform is addressing this paradigm?. Again, vendors took the lead by introducing SCA. But, there is a split between SCA community and JBI community.

Now, with all these, J2EE is also evolving with its own EJB 3.0 etc.

As a J2EE solution provider, the cycle for design decisions just got longer and longer...

This is not something which anyone would want in the ruthless race to achieve productivity and reduce the time-to-market of new solutions...

At the same time, there is no competent/equivalent platform is also available that could replace J2EE in the enterprise space.

So, There is a clear need for a replacement. But, there is no substitute.

The moment that substitute arrives, J2EE will lose the battle completely. I strongly feel that the new set of dynamic programming languages like Ruby has a strong chance of getting into enterprise space, provided they demonstrate 'enterprise-readiness'.

OK, Who gains from this fragmentation?. Obviously, Microsoft.

Microsoft has a very clear roadmap for an 'Integrated' solution set addressing the SOA and new set of capabilities in Office and Communications. Microsoft is clearly ahead of the game in terms of providing integrated solutions.

It would be interesting to watch who wins the game eventually?. Microsoft or a New Disruptive Platform.

ROI on Web 2.0

I was always cynical about Enterprise Web 2.0 and ROI on using web 2.0 technologies.

But, my recent research showed me enough data that web 2.0 has tremendous value potential within the enterprise.

The key success driver behind deploying any web 2.0 technologies is that it calls for a 'change' in the organization's management.

Unless the 'change' in organization's management science is integrated with technology and deployed, the web 2.0 platforms would just 'be there' as a wallflower. By management science, I mean the corporate policies, processes and management style.

Two concrete examples:

1. AJAX/RIAs when used effectively for business applications, will improve the productivity and lead to tangible cost-savings. The cost-savings can be calculated by the perceived savings in the man-hour spent on the application to accomplish the business functions. Now, you know why SAP is re-building its UI using Flex for future versions.

2. If your company is knowledge-driven & depends on collective intelligence/creativity (e.g. Marketing), then having web 2.0 is a MUST for your enterprise. Read McKensy's report on 'Competitive Advantage from better interactions' to know more on this.

3. I think its more of a mindset change rather than technology change. Look at these latest technologies like SOA, web 2.0 and SaaS by wearing your ROI glass & a pinch of creativity, I promise you that you will find innumarable possibilities for future Growth.