From 1965 to yesterday, the definition of IT has really been "to automate the knowledge worker tasks of days gone by." It's never really been "to enable the intellectual power of all those who have come before, and all those who are about to join us."
That's about to change.
The same way the next generation user doesn't give a rat's behind about your "you can only use laptop ABC with software XYZ' on it" mandate, the next generation of IT people are not going to care one bit about "we're an (IBM,Oracle, EMC, Pick Your Poison) shop."
The next generation is fearless.
They don't care about "folders" and "structure." They don't care about "inboxes" or "outboxes" - which were designed to AUTOMATE some function that used to be manual and physical - back in 1975. We used to TYPE a DOCUMENT then make a MIMEOGRAPH of it and put it in the FOLDER which was stored inside the FILE CABINET. Now we do the electronic version of the same things. How very "Mad Men" (stolen analogy from John McKnight, super genius). What's next, slapping the admin's butt (electronically, of course)? Scotch and cigarettes at 9:30AM?
When's the last time your 17 year old did any of that?
Guess who your next CIO is? The kid who was born in the cloud. The kid who gets his information from a Twitter stream, blog roll, or web page. Not a newspaper or a TV. The kid who pushes and pulls value socially. Not mono-directionally. Old school IT vendors still try to control the "message" and selectively hear the responses. Old school IT still tries to control what you get, when, how, and where. How very Mayberryesque.
I'll talk more about the Social Enterprise later - as it is a massively disruptive, completely fascinating movement (and you all know how I enjoy those!).
We WILL NOT consume IT apps/services/value the way that we have for the last 50 years any longer. So why do we continue to attempt to deliver them the same way?
IT isn't going to need a meteor to make us extinct. We're doing just fine on our own. We're going to implode at this rate. And it won't take decades. It will take a few years.
Things change. Adapt or perish. Peyton Manning will not play forever. People might actually vote for Newt Gingrich. Newt might actually be the antichrist. The Soviet Union might fall. Greece has the financial controls of my 8 year old daughter.
Stuff happens. Whether you like it or not, stuff happens.
The bigger truth: it's time for our CIOs to realize that they can lead the new wave, or get run over by it.
You can read Steve's other blog entries at The Bigger Truth.