At last month's TDWI World Conference in Chicago, keynote speaker David Wells made some bold predictions about the future of IT. One was that IT departments as we know them will likely disappear within 10 to 15 years. That's well within the range of existing estimates Wells says are probably too generous already.

IT, in his view, finally has become a commodity. Business is dynamic and impatient, and pure techies don't hold the mystique they once did. Coming off the downturn that already compromised IT's role, the business now aims to literally combine technology providers and users.

That will mean less talk of "business/IT alignment," Wells said, because alignment refers to distinct groups working in parallel. What we need instead is to integrate technology into the human activities of business, in both the figurative and physical sense.

An example of business-integrated technologies is smart analytic interfaces that help users understand their environment and perform better. David Steier of Deloitte Consulting explains further in a feature this month.

It's a way of saying the value of technology arises from its user, not from IT. In our Interface department, Donald Farmer talks of "the end of the end user" and the redefined borders of work and the workspace. In the context of collaboration and engagement, end users of information are better described as originators of information. "IT's role does not lie in managing my apps, but in supplying the services, security and data I need to be effective in my corporate environment," Farmer writes. As users collaborate, Farmer predicts they will build the analytics that matter around data services from IT.

William McKnight adds that predictions – specifically predictive analytics – don't provide the best value unless probability is built into decision support. Though the value of probability can be difficult to prove (particularly where bad outcomes have not materialized), adding dimensions into predictive analytics bring a clear payoff. Read his article here.

Information technology is changing and evolving every day. We'll never know exactly what's ahead, but armed with technology that engages our observations, we'll be more informed and, hopefully, more prepared.

Enjoy the issue.

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