The digitized society changes our approach towards information technology

Today, we’re communicating digitally more than in any other way.  The letters, postcards and Christmas cards we wrote for so many years, are replaced by e-Cards, e-mails, Facebook updates, Tweets and WhatsApps.  Our phone calls are using VOIP or Skype and we find information using Yahoo, Google or Wikipedia.  Pictures and movies are taken using digital camera’s or smartphones and published to Instagram, Picasa or Youtube. And we find our way using TomTom, Google Maps, or (again) our smartphone.

Digital information is everywhere around us and the devices to capture, process and retrieve digital information are available in every shopping mall or easily ordered using the Internet. “Consumerization of IT” has happened and in the digitized society we’re living in all information is available for (almost) everyone.

Whilst establishing and maintaining information technology were of prime concern in the earlier days of IT, we now can get IT facilities on every streetcorner.  This implies that we should focus on the effective usage of digital information and this will cause a revolution in our approach of information technology.

Methodologies like ITIL, Cobit, Togaf, Prince, Archimate, BisL, itSMF and many others are written with the prime goal in mind to reduce the number of errors and mistakes in  IT projects and IT support and maintenance.  They are “defensive” and “conservative” in a sense that they are very reluctant against changes and seem to share the belief that “not changing” always produces the lesser risk.

Information technologyA Dutch handbook printed in 1935 and published for car drivers, mechanics and repairmen is presented in this picture. The book contains 915 (!) illustrations and the book on the picture (“part 1, the motor”) is only one part of the complete series.   In 1935 in order to keep your car running you either had to be a mechanic yourselves, or had to have a mechanic (or “chauffeur”) in your direct neighbourhood. Like the use of IT in the 20th century, the use of an automobile until the second worldwar was strongly related to constructionand maintenance.

Todays cars are maintained by specialized staff, having access to up-to-date information and brand- and type specific replacement parts. The support and maintenance needed in modern cars cannot by far be compared with the amount of attention needed in 1935. “Driving a car”,“developping cars” and “maintaining cars” are completely separated skills in our days.

The same will soon be true for Information “Technology”.  Organizations oftenly fall automatically into having and configurating computer systems and  maintaining private data centers, into organizing their own IT department and thus into maintaining a lot of knowledge about the construction and maintenance of IT facilities, simply because they want to use digital information. But this will change rapidly. More and more “IT” will come from the outside world.  Readily available SaaS or Cloud functionality like Google Apps and Office 365 (both “office” applications), SalesForce (CRM), Aplicor, Workday or SAP (ERP) and many others will be used in organizations, maybe even before the IT departments know it.  “Bring Your Own Device” will be a fact of life, be it with or without the consent of the IT steering board.  And the (business wise) sensible use of digital information will be more and more detached from the construction and maintenance of IT facilities, including applications.

This will impact our methodologies. The focus has to shift from “preventing mistakes” and “safeguard continuity” towards “quickly adopt”, “support freedom of choice” and “embracing change”.  IT craftmenship with its procedures and methodologies will still be needed, but not by far as widespread as it is today. Our focus will have to be on the “sensible use of everything that is already there”. Conservatism will be very riskfull, because this will imply that the organization will miss the benefits of what is easily available in the outside world.

By ing. Bob Schat
Principal Solution Architect
CSC Healthcare

 Author of:
Title: Beter met Architectuur (Dutch version)
ISBN: 9789087536251
Price: € 22,50