The year 2007 was a time that saw a lot of conventional wisdom shattered. Continuing with our review of the most popular posts of 2007, stories that captured the interest of readers far and wide included the potential of running an entire data center operation in the "cloud" for pocket change, new findings that refute the belief that "IT doesn't matter," and the stumbling of an organization that was, not too long ago, considered a formidable leader and trendsetter in information technology.
Here are the 7th, 6th, and 5th most popular posts of 2007, as we work our way up to number 1 (to come soon): (Numbers 8, 9, and 10 posted here.)
#7 The $80 data center: cheap computing or head in the cloud? Would you pay $80 (USD) for a data center with unlimited scalability and capacity? Web services and standardization make it possible to share both IT and business services not only across the enterprise, but across the Internet. The global SOA is becoming a reality. Online podcasting service GigaVox Media, an Amazon Web Services customer, reportedly spent just over $80 in its first two months of business on storage (S3), messaging (SQS) and processing (EC2). The company claims it "didn't have to buy a single server." However, cloud computing may not deliver the same competitive advantage and accountability as onsite legacy systems.
#6 Surprise: new Harvard-MIT study finds IT does ‘matter’ — a lot. Harvard and MIT professors looked at growth and market share across various industries over the last decade, and concluded that those industries that invested heavily in IT fared better than those that didn't invest as much. Since the mid 1990s, the study finds, the high-IT industries had greater levels of concentration (the extent to which market share was held by a few dominant companies), as well as turbulence (the extent to which firms in an industry jump around in rank order from year to year).The researchers concluded that "'high-IT' industries experienced significantly greater turbulence and concentration growth after the mid 1990s than they did before, and these differences were not as pronounced in 'low-IT' industries." They add, though, that even with all this IT, "both innovation and replication require a combination of leadership and insight from executives. Take innovation: Many companies use IT to capture huge amounts of data from their operations, but relatively few have been able to use this data creatively."
#5 Watch out for falling technology: Wal-Mart’s IT issues. Information technology may be lurking behind Wal-Mart 's latest market travails. The retail giant's competitors may have caught up in terms of it's vaunted efficient IT and intelligent supply chains. Other factors hampering Wal-Mart include its centralized IT structure, which overrides local store decision-making, and too much reliance on home-grown IT systems.
Wal-Mart has become a company burdened with legacy systems, some of which may still provide competitive advantage; others which are commoditized to the point where a packaged system can and should be swapped in. Fertile ground for new approaches such as service-oriented architecture, data analytics, and Web 2.0, which could ease the transition to new thinking and new technologies.