The world is reeling from the changes that information technology has brought to the world. IT systems have made it possible for companies to communicate with each other and ensure that key business processes are coordinated and delivered. Through the IT systems, too, the companies are able to connect with their customers in order to collect feedback and resolve issues that may have arisen in the way that the customer used the services or products of the company. Information technology has been a revolutionizing factor in the world of business and communication between and among people.
Yet, a greater revolution has been born when the use of the Internet became widespread all over the world. Professionals, businesses, and even ordinary people started using emails, instant messengers, online social networking sites, and other features of the Internet that make it possible for them to connect with other people. In order to keep up with the demands of maintaining the different files and services necessary for the organization to keep afloat in the Internet, they pour in thousands of dollars on computer hardware, software, and personnel.
Most large companies do have a separate IT Department handling IT processes and ensuring that the interconnections within the organization are safe and sound. Moreover, the communication processes between the organization and the customers have to be protected. The features of the Internet have been evolving over time. The concept of Web 2. 0 has been put forward to describe programs in the Internet that allows users to edit content and write their own content in the Internet.
There is also a growing popularity of web hosting files and web-based programs where users can store their files online, retrieve, edit them, and store them again. Even without physical storage or a large disk drive, a computer user can simply use the Internet as a disk drive. Because of these developments, several thinkers have speculated about the further evolution of the Internet the growing importance of Web Services and its impact on the IT Departments of business organizations. Web Services and IT Departments
Hagel and Brown (2001) have noted the trend in Web Services and the growing importance of web-based applications and technologies. These trends are ushering in a new era of more open and less proprietary IT architecture. This emerging IT architecture is very open and allows different companies to share resources and even approaches in managing their files and coordinate the different systems being used by the company. Under the old IT architecture, organizations tended to become locked into business processes that are rendered obsolete by IT developments within the next few years.
The Web Services model of IT architecture expounded by Hagel and Brown (2001) makes use of Internet technology. These web services have a common language in the form of XML and different programs and applications can understand this language. The web services IT architecture is composed of three layers. The first one is the software foundation and protocols that enable applications to communicate with each other. On top of this are the different utilities that enable services, management of different forms of files, as well as the utilities that allow users to send messages.
The third layer is composed of the different applications that enable organizations to execute their business processes. According to Hagel and Brown (2001), the IT departments of organizations will be affected by the changes brought about by Web Services and that software and hardware companies are now investing heavily in turning such potential to reality. Changes in Organizations’ IT Departments The IT Departments of companies will surely be affected by the advent of these web services that Hagel and Brown expounded on.
After all, the Internet’s development, together with that of the technologies supporting it, is still going on exponentially and the next few years will so more of these developments to be in place. Hagel and Brown (2001) also acknowledged that it will take years before the Web Services model of IT architecture would be in place. The past few years have seen some of these developments although it is not as fast as the authors implied they would be. What is happening, instead, is that companies are outsourcing more and more of their IT processes, thereby saving costs in terms of labor and maintenance of IT systems within the organization.
Outsourcing has transformed the traditional way that IT processes in organizations have been traditionally understood. Organizations are now working with different IT consultants and practitioners all over the world and they are no longer relying solely on their own IT infrastructures and processes. On the other hand, however, the relationship of the organization with the service providers of their IT processes is one of sharing processes and providing access to outsiders to the systems of the organization.
Already, this kind of arrangement has introduced lots of changes in the delivery models, project completion, and implementation of IT projects in organizations. The Chief Information Officers now do more of coordination instead of actual implementation of IT projects and processes. The IT departments of different organizations, however, are looking for better ways to share information and collaborate on different projects and IT processes. Up to a limited degree, secure web services has already been in place.
There have been big changes in the IT departments of organizations all over the world. Most of these changes, however, have not been brought about by the dawning of Web services as a new IT infrastructure as was claimed by Hagel and Brown (2001). Such changes, rather, are being brought about by outsourcing and the challenges it brings in the traditional IT work process. Conclusion Dismissing Hagel and Brown’s thesis, however, will not do. In fact, outsourcing and the practices of IT departments are paving the way for a new IT infrastructure to be in place.
Such infrastructure should be more open and flexible to the demands of working inter-geographically. The developments in the uses of the Internet and the challenges of managing global business processes further hasten the need for Web Services model of IT infrastructure described by the two authors. Web services will create more changes in the way that IT departments are working. The beginnings of this infrastructure can already be seen in some web applications.
Hagel and Brown’s call for corporations and companies still stand true—they should start making the transition in order to be ready when the potential finally turns to reality. The challenge for organizations therefore is to identify the trends in the emerging IT infrastructures so that they can ride the crest of the wave of the future. Otherwise, they might get lost in the highly competitive markets in the world and in the Internet.
Hagel, J. III & Brown, J. S. (2001). Your Next IT Strategy. Harvard Business Review, October 2001, 105-113.