A brief history of IT

Is your IT future-oriented? 
The nature of IT is changing - if you aren't adapting, chances are that your IT is a liability rather than an asset for your organization. So - what's different?

Yesterday's IT

The era whene IT was nothing more than automation of repetitive data processing is over.  Old IT systems were difficult to use, required scrutinous training, changed slowly were fully defined by static, prescriptive processes which permitted little variation. "IT" was mostly a data dump and retrieval center.

Users had a desktop client software which connected to a central database. The flexibility these systems possessed was in their ignorance of business processes (albeit sometimes with the pain, "We don't have a form field for this").

IT had full control of who had which version of the software and how the data was used - oftentimes, without even understanding what this data actually meant or how it was used.  Business processes were fully part of the business domain and outside of IT scope.

The legacy of this era remains a pool of low quality data and systems which are difficult to understand, maintain and upgrade.

Complexity was on the level of getting servers stable and software to run. Business complexity was neglegible.

Today's IT

IT does data processing more than ever - but the nature has changed.

More and more business logic has been inserted into IT systems, to the point where IT systems are doing actual clerical and administrative work. For example, a modern IT system not only accepts customer data, it might validate the customer's address, credit score, and order. IT systems reject bad contracts, informs the customer when products are out of stock, offers alternatives and even provides discounts, cross-sales, upsales and bargains. And that's just pre-fulfillment.

Such an IT is no longer a dumb data shelf for smart business processes - it becomes more the other way around: IT systems have an even deeper understanding of the business than any human being in the organization.

While many companies still face the complexity of managing their infrastructure, today most complexity resides in automating and managing the business capabilities.

Tomorrow's IT

In the age of "everything-as-a-service", IT infrastructure and processes are mostly automated. "Serverless", client-independent services can be used from anywhere for pretty much anything. Interconnected services route smart, self-correcting requests to achieve their purpose.
Autonomous agents discover and learn rather than blindly act upon pre-defined rulesets.

The IT of the future can do anything we can set our mind on - if we have the right skills and are willing to invest into the right tools. Constraints are either willful ("we don't want to ...") or external (e.g., "we can't afford ...") and no longer technological.

Although the technological complexity of such systems is extremely high, it is self-managed by other technology, allowing IT specialists to focus on creating enabling features and their interconnections.




Where is your IT?

With the above historic summary, you can quickly decide whether your IT is past-, present- or future-oriented.

Many organizations want to have tomorrow's IT, yet they are stuck maintaining and servicing yesterday's IT, so they can't even take the benefits of today's IT.

From an economic perspective such backward-oriented investments are hardly feasible, yet sunken-cost fallacies and fear of the Unknown make them commonplace.

If you're not prepared for the IT of the future, now might be a good time for making some strategic adjustments - improvement doesn't happen by itself, we must work towards it!

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