When most people today talk about the consumerization of enterprise IT, they're referring to business users bringing their own smartphones or tablets to work or to business units that deploy software-as-a-service applications with little if any assistance from the IT organization. Those shifts may seem radical now, but they will pale in comparison to a trend Enterprise Strategies founder Andy Jankowski highlights on his blog, sharing insights from Oracle Corporation Global Client Advisor Joe Jorczak.
While core enterprise systems such as ERP and CRM won't go away, they will increasingly be supplemented by more applications built to address specific business needs. The application lifecycle will get shorter, with a far more dynamic development process. OK, but that's not so radical. It's already happening, right?
It's who will do the development, not the process itself, that's the really radical part. Rather than creating application code, IT pros will instead design tools, objects and environments that will enable business users to build their own apps, a shift that Jorczak predicts will "bring new talent and creativity into the IT environment." He writes:
The successful IT professional of 2020 will interact with users more like the Apple Genius Bar consultant does today, advising people on new ways to use the technology, and will look less like the car mechanic taking apart an engine and struggling to explain how all the parts fit together and why it costs so much to fix.
These foundational technologies and tools will be delivered via cloud-based infrastructures, which IT pros will create and maintain. IT will also be responsible for ensuring user-created apps meet security and compliance requirements, Jorczak says.
I wrote about this trend way back in 2008, in a post called "Mashups Put a Software Developer at Every Desk." Since then the term "mashup" seems to have taken a nosedive in popularity, although the idea of empowering users to create their own business applications obviously hasn't.
The sources I cited in that post predicted it would be about a decade before the idea of user-created applications becomes mainstream. Jorczak offers a similar timeframe, noting that "inertia (particularly from traditional IT) will be difficult to overcome."
Still, we're seeing activity that seems to point in this direction. Last February when I interviewed a Salesforce.com executive about a product called the Visual Process Manager that allows users to design business processes with a visual design tool and instantly run them in a cloud environment, I asked him if business users could also use it to build their own applications. His answer:
What's a developer? It's anyone that builds an app. Completely non-technical people are able to build fairly straightforward apps and professional developers can build any apps on our platform. [Visual Process Manager] raises the bar on what you can build as an app in our platform without writing a single line of code.