As a thought-starter to the MIT/CIO Magazine Symposium on May 20th, CIO Magazine's Publisher Emeritus Gary Beach recorded a short video introduction where he posits that "IT beats to a 15-year drum".
Starting in 1950 with the mainframe computer, he says, every 15 years a platform transformation comes along that disrupts IT: the minicomputer in 1965, the PC in 1980, and the browser in 1995. That makes 2010 the witching hour for the next disruptive IT platform transformation - what is the next IT Big Thing?
While IT trends like mobility/wireless, cloud computing and virtulization will all cause big changes for corporate IT, I'm putting forth the case that SaaS is the next IT "Big Thing". Rather than just accomplishing incremental change or doing the same things better, SaaS is fundamentally disruptive to both IT's role in the enterprise and the end-user experience with IT:
- IT's Role: IT's role will evolve away from building data centers, selecting & buying servers, purchasing infrastructure software (eg Oracle, WebSphere), developing custom applications, and learning how to install/configure/manage/monitor/optimize all of this, towards SaaS vendor diligence/management, service coordination/integration, and data control/management.
- User's Experience with IT: The typical corporate user's experience with IT will evolve away from the effects of IT's lock-down mentality (no upgrades or changes, must standardize everything) and often glacially slow responsiveness, towards IT quickly delivering new services, granting end-user control and configurability, ongoing change management, and continually increasing/improving service capability with SaaS's ongoing pain-free & cost-free upgrades.
Like Gary's other game-changing platform transformations, IT is resisting the SaaS trend due to perceived less control, influence, and mission-criticality. Nevertheless, the fundamental economic advantages and end-user advantages of SaaS will cause it to take over more and more of corporate software services over the next decade.
In my view, that makes SaaS the next IT "Big Thing".