Democratization of IT (macro trend 3 of 3)

Back in September 2009, the Burton Group (acquired by Gartner in January 2010) posted three predictions for the year to come. Three macro trends were determined and detailed: externalization of IT, consumerization of IT, and democratization of IT.

This blog post discusses democratization of IT; the two previous postings covered externalization of IT and consumerization of IT and how these are enabled by cloud computing.

Democratization of IT

“Democratization is evident in the rise and importance of social networks within and outside the modern enterprise which changes the “ways of work” and challenges traditional organization structures and schema.”

If you search the internet for democratization you will find different interpretations, especially when in relation to cloud computing. However, most of these interpretations describe aspects which are related to consumerization and not democratization. In my view the term democratization can be viewed from two different angles:

  1. The rise of social media; interconnectivity is being made possible through the coming of social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Blogger, and Worldpress. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is driven by information. Information is now flowing everywhere thought social networks, for everyone to use.
  2. Voted leaders; a different way in which ‘ leaders’ are selected. Not though (just) climbing the ladder for many years or knowing the right people but by actual knowledge and ability to execute. A best of breed approach to leadership selection; may the most capable win.

The rise of social media

Social media is quickly becoming the primary communication and collaboration format because a new generation is entering the business arena, genYs or “digital natives” use of technology and social media platforms is accelerating adoption. However enterprises are adopting social media, but are struggling to realize the value and manage risk.

IBM is a great example of this; heavily engaged on twitter and in the blogosphere for all the important IT trends like cloud computing, social media and big data. IBM even has internal education for all its employees on how to safely use social media and work on your social eminence, while maintaining business compliance. IBM also uses this knowledge to offer clients services to craft their social business strategy as well as a wide array of tools to manage your business social identity.

Voted leaders

This is an even more interesting one! The world is slowly, but gradually, changing how our next generation leaders are selected. Now almost everyone can have a voice and is free to show their expertise, using social media, and start innovative business models using new technologies like cloud computing. This is slowly shifting the balance of power from a hierarchical model to a knowledge driven model based on subject matter experts working together in a networked organization.

I also see this trend intensifying in the near future now 3D printers are becoming available to the general public, allowing anyone to print their own bracelets and coffee cups for instance. Same as with traditional printing, I expect that 3D printing will not annihilate traditional businesses. It will however intensify the competition between traditional businesses, fighting over the decreasing piece of the pie, while providing the public with greater freedom to be creative and invent the coffee cup of tomorrow.

Conclusion

However, there is still a long way to go. I have not seen many organizations facilitate the coexistence of hierarchical and democratic styles of communication and choice-making. Even more so, I see that many, if not all, organizations are still struggling with their ‘online identity’, though the adoption of social media for business purposes is growing rapidly.

To be continued!

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