Why is IT dead?

IT is dead. Instead, how we Experience Information governs how useful it is, what we can do with it and how fast we can do it.

Todays knowledge workers are bombarded with a plethora of information from a variety of sources, and this makes it increasingly difficult to focus attention on what needs to be done day-to-day. Executing the simplest of tasks often requires finding, managing and organising information from an array of online and offline sources and this creates a significant hurdle that has little to do with the job itself i.e. navigating complex information silos has become a job for the user and it adds no real value.

Information Technology (IT) succeeded over the last 30 years to make this information available at our fingertips, but now the information itself is not enough – it is how we use it that matters most, and unfortunately this is hindered in many cases by the absence of design. In a world where every company has access to the information, its value diminishes because it becomes a commodity i.e. the entry point merely to compete in the market, not excel in it. If IT has fulfilled its objective, then it has also created a new set of problems for users that they are not equipped to solve, and identifying these can lead to future opportunities.

How can users be empowered to work better and add more value as opposed to losing themselves in mines of information that grinds down daily activities? The typical IT systems development approach is based on the functional decomposition of complex information and its flow, and this is simply not good enough any more because it fails to put people at the heart of the process. Design is a mere veneer that is added as a “front-end” to makes a system “usable” after the hard work of analysis, design and specification have led to a blueprint of what needs to be created. Typical methodologies here neglect human emotion entirely and this explains why there are so many “crappy” IT systems that ignore how users feel.

Meanwhile, mobile technologies such as the iPad and iPhone have shown that it is possible to deliver an amazing personal experience so that information is “just there”, and this hints at a new paradigm. These devices, and their interfaces defer to users and disappear into the background enabling people to focus on the task in hand with fewer distractions. Gaming companies have exploited psychology to attract and retain users, often while doing the most mundane of tasks, while analytics have helped them derive a deep understanding of user behaviours. Mobile has shown that it is the way that people experience this information which makes it so personal and a joy to use. Mobile in the enterprise is just at the dawn, and it needs a new paradigm to fully exploit it, one that an IT approach is poorly equipped to deliver.

IT on its own is dead. Instead it is how we experience the information that governs how useful it is, what we can do with it and how fast we can do it. A world of opportunity awaits for organisations that can deliver an amazing personal experience for how their employees can use this information to accomplish tasks will gain a major advantage over competitors. If they can discover a route to doing this, their staff will be happier in their jobs, add more value, be more productive, more committed and take more pride in their work. Furthermore mobile technologies promise to free people from being tied to their desks, and cloud technologies enable information to “just be there” without the complexity of desktop filing systems. Meanwhile contextual messaging can be incorporated into applications and when combined with a predictive workflow it means that people can focus more on what to do, not how to do it.