People are often asking me what I think is going to happen next in IT… do I think cloud is going to take off? at what level? do I think HTML 5 will be a big deal? How long will Apple be a leader? What will they do next? And I love talking about these things, but they’re all just theories Like anything else there are theories and there are laws when it comes to the future. Today I want to talk about a law (I’m thinking about doing a series on “Laws of IT’s Future” so let me know if you like where this is going).
THE LAW: As time progresses, individual users will be exposed to smaller and smaller pieces of functionality that they will be able to piece together themselves in whatever way they find useful/pleasurable.
This has been a trend almost from the moment computers were invented. The first computers were monoliths that allowed for individuals to get a subset of information. Then there were a proliferation of different mainframes and software for them. Then you were able to run different applications right on your PC. Now you have access to apps, many of which take no more than a couple of days to create. Counting simple web and mobile “apps” many of us use 10s or 100s of different applications per day. This trend will continue in personal computing, especially as “meta-applications” that use many applications’ APIs begin to become fixtures (think about your Facebook page that has Zynga and other apps built in to it or think about TweetDeck that plugs in to Twitter, Facebook and Klout).
This progression is happening (and will continue to) on the enterprise side but it will be slower. Necessarily, enterprises can be more efficient if everyone is using the same applications or at least applications that communicate well together. For now, the effort right now seems to be to use similar applications, but to expose individual bits of functionality. You can see this in Microsoft’s Office365 “light” web applications or in Service Oriented Arachitectures that break monolithic applications in to smaller chunks without disposing of the monoliths. For once I’m not faulting enterprise IT for being a little bit behind the consumer side, there’s simply too much loss of productivity if people are using different systems.
The only question in this space is whether something like HTML 5 (where the little apps we use will be on the web and our company’s intranet) or something like the AppStore where the little apps exist on our devices will win out. Only time will tell and to guess on that would be to theorize, it’s beyond the scope of the law.