Today's so-called innovations
Here's what matters: The current celebrated innovations -- smartphones, tablets, and the cloud -- are either consumer innovations (remember, "information technology" is about using computing technology in business) or porting one or more of the dozen innovations I listed to these new platforms.
Don't agree? Take some time to browse through the business section of Apple's App Store. You're looking for something you can do on a tablet that you couldn't do on your laptop or that is so clumsy on a laptop that it needed a new platform to be practical.
Here's my list: Electronic-ink-based note-taking and e-readers. Everything else I've found -- and I've looked pretty hard -- seems like the same old ideas implemented on the new platforms.
The cloud has been just as disappointing. The closer you look, the more you'll understand that mostly, the cloud consists of old innovations that have been repackaged to make them available through the Internet. The cloud's most important "innovation" is parallel to the personal empowerment the PC enabled in the early 1980s: It makes many existing innovations available to and affordable for the SOHO marketplace.
This isn't necessarily a small thing, and if you like to bandy about terms like "disruptive technology," it's entirely possible the SOHO market will turn out to be the incubator that lets the cloud mature into the game-changer so many pundits have declared it to be. But that's a different subject from the current lack of innovation, which leads to the question: What's holding us back?
Here's one factor: The true next-level innovations might be solutions to seriously hard problems. For tablets, we're talking about problems like accurate handwriting recognition. For the cloud, we're talking about challenges like semantic search.
But innovative new applications built on existing core technologies? Maybe we really have run out of new ideas. I sure hope not, though. Because writing about the same old ones over and over again stopped being fun a long time ago.
This story, "IT innovation ain't what it used to be," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bob Lewis's Advice Line blog on InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.