Gartner analyst warns of IT irrelevance

Senior VP lays out four major business and IT trends

At the Gartner Symposium ITXPO 2007, Peter Sondergaard, senor vice president of global research, gave a keynote address on emerging IT trends and how they will affect IT on a personal and professional level.

The four major trends highlighted by Sondergaard were the consumerization of IT, alternative delivery models for IT, green IT, and the changing shape of IT.

It is a given, Sondergaard said, that today, most high-technology products are now purchased by consumers rather than by IT. As a result, high-tech design is being driven by consumers.

"Consumers influence the price point and the design of technology," said Sondergaard.

Over time, this trend will find its way into the heart of the enterprise and influence IT infrastructure and architecture as well with consumers influencing available storage, processing power, and bandwidth.

Sondergaard said that in a reversal of traditional roles, the consumer has more computer power than the enterprise. He also noted that affordable access to technology and content will increase the power of individuals and how they interact with the enterprise either as a customer or an employee.

"This will cause significant disruption in the technology sector," Sondergaard said.

Low cost and easy-to-use devices and content destabilizes the balance between the enterprise, consumers, and the state and challenges the assumption of technology scarcity and uniqueness.

"By 2009, organizations will be required to deliver scaled down versions of applications, content, and value added services to a customer's personal, virtual, or home computing environment," said Sondergaard.

The second trend that Gartner will be focusing on in the months ahead is that of alternative delivery models that give users new options for acquiring technologies and creating new business models.

"There is a growing desire to pay for access to technology and business outcome, not for use of technology," said Sondergaard. This in turn will engender new hardware and software licensing models as users increasingly buy a service rather than a product.

"These new options and models will cannibalize or eliminate markets and vendors, and new purchase options will create major financial consequences for all of us."

 Perhaps ever since Al Gore won the Academy Award for his documentary An Inconvenient Truth, green is suddenly the talk of every business gathering. Sondergaard warned that the strong public and political interest will affect all suppliers and users, and IT organizations need to be cognizant of its environmental impact.

"IT directly impacts the amount of CO2 emissions and can impact the reduction of CO2 emissions." Green is big, and it is unpredictable," said Sondergaard.

Finally, Sondergaard spoke of the changing shape of IT, saying that as IT becomes an established element of most business processes and individual activities, it is evolving into a specialized discipline in business.

"Certain functions may be taken as aspects of the business, so the remaining traditional IT functions will have to focus increasingly on efficiency and well defined levels of service," said the senior vice president.

Sondergaard warned that IT managers will quickly become irrelevant unless they select and purchase IT technology on the basis of improving business performance.

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