Which “one” word sums up information technology for you in 2008?

An impossible task I know, but a pleasant distraction from the turkey and cranberry overload this yuletide had me rummaging through my stack of this year’s 200-odd blogs to try and produce a single word that sums up what taste software application development – or even the IT industry as a whole – should leave in our mouths as we brace our livers for another bout of New Year festive hopscotch this week.One word now – let me see.

An impossible task I know, but a pleasant distraction from the turkey and cranberry overload this yuletide had me rummaging through my stack of this year’s 200-odd blogs to try and produce a single word that sums up what taste software application development – or even the IT industry as a whole – should leave in our mouths as we brace our livers for another bout of New Year festive hopscotch this week.

One word now – let me see.

Well if this were Stephen Fry’s QI you ought to expect a loud clanger siren for saying “CLOUD” shouldn’t you? Hugely important yes, but still arguably nascent in many aspects and when paired with “VIRTUALISATION” surely two of our most ‘well-worn’ terms this year. Was it only VMworld Europe’s first year in 2008? Yes it was.

There are some terms, I’ll pick CONCURRENCY for example, that aren’t new per se, but were hammered home with unparalleled vigour (I hope you got that joke) this year. Although if you were a processor manufacturer, then you still would – wouldn’t you?

BROWSER WARS (ok that’s two words) comes to mind – again, nothing new really is it?

So should it be MASHUPs, or that just so 2007? Big vendors such as IBM are still banking on hardy perennials like AGILE. Adobe is still proudly saying RIAs, Sun is saying OPEN SOURCE OS - we’ll allow that as one word for today to avoid brand names. Sybase is saying MOBILE ENTERPRISE DATA – damn, three words again.

Microsoft’s summer ReMIX web developer and design event was summed up with ACCESSIBILITY and there’s probably more than one other vendor out there who would like us to walk into the New Year thinking STANDARDS. For their part, Microsoft would probably far rather we thought COLLABORATION, but whatever right?

It’s a tough one isn’t it? Should it be something slightly tangential such as DEVICES, or should it be SKILLS, or perhaps even GREENWASHING? How about BROADCAST 2.0, ENTERPRISE SOCIAL-NETWORKING or GUIs & DESIGN?

Maybe it should just something more recognisably granular at the foundation layer of application development such as DEBUGGING. Not exciting enough for you? It might be if you were a project manager overseeing fifteen bug-ridden silos of application structure on a mission critical project.

OK so what’s my least favourite word for software in 2008? That’s easy - it has to be OPTIMISATION, it’s now so overused and hackneyed that titles or headlines with this word in cause about as many raised eyebrows as a smutty jibe on the Jonathan Ross show don’t they? “Moving software from one form factor to another is best achieved using our optimisation/compiler toolset that blah blah blah,” I’ll stop there – you get the idea.

Ah, but there we might just have it, think slightly to the side of optimisation and you’re not a million miles away from CONVERGENCE. By that I mean convergence of devices and form factors, convergent use of the same web app across different browsers (OK, I know we’ve got a long way to go there), convergent use of a single corporate repository of data across secure networks on desktops, mobiles and handhelds.

If you agree with me (and I mean convergence in the broadest possible sense please) then I think it might be interesting to examine what exactly is driving this gathering of the clans. Is it just the web, or is there more to it? Is it user demand for consistency now at a higher level than ever before?

If you don’t agree with me – I do hope you’ll post a reply and proffer forth your software, hardware, ‘webware’ or ‘techware’ of any kind word of 2008.

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