Mastering the Fifth Wave of Corporate IT

The year 2012 is a very important one in corporate IT, as the social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies that have so dominated the consumer experience for the past several years entered the enterprise world in a meaningful way, laying the foundation for a new master corporate IT architecture. To date, there have been four master corporate technology architectures: the mainframe, the minicomputer, client/server and the Internet. Each of these eras lasted roughly a decade and drove business productivity higher during those periods. Each architecture focused on key business processes and supported “killer” technology applications (such as ERP with client/server and e-commerce with the Internet) to drive new levels of value.

However, once those architectures were in place, early productivity gains waned, and investments reached points of diminishing returns (which is why the top of each “S” goes flat). After all, once you’ve put your ERP backbone in place, you don’t need a second one. Today, it’s clear we are at the top of the fourth curve and starting to jump to the fifth. As with other “curve jumps,” this shift will generate significant dislocation and wealth creation on the supply (or vendor) side of the industry — across hardware, software and services sectors — and drive new levels of productivity on the demand (or user) side of the industry.