Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work on some projects with the Association for Information Systems Professionals, a group that had taken one wild ride on the information technology roller coaster.
(Note, not to be confused with the Association of Information Technology Professionals, formerly Data Processing Management Association, a vibrant group based in Chicago.)
You see, AISP's roots were in word processing technologies. At one time there was an entire industry built around word processing. Yes, you read it right; word processing
-- led by IBM, Wang Laboratories, and Xerox. Even Exxon built and sold wordprocessors. Word processing terminals hit the market in the 1970s, andcompanies began to replace secretaries with huge, centralized wordprocessing centers that would generate correspondence and documents.
AISP, in fact, was originally called theInternational Word Processing Association, or IWP. The association hadits own huge, multi-million-dollar trade show every year calledSyntopican. But the party began to break up as PCs gained a foothold in the 1980s, and wordprocessing software became part of every desktop.
At first,analysts were incredulous that executives would sit down and type theirown documents at a PC. And the concept of data processing/wordprocessing integration seemed like a far-off fantasy. But that'sexactly what happened. Technology changed the corporate culture, andkilled the grey-flannel organization-man executive. IWP/AISP rode the wave,but as PCs became ubiquitous in corporate offices in the late 1980s and 1990s, the association whithered away.
The lesson is that technology giveth; but may quickly taketh away. Will Web services/SOAhave the same impact on much of the software industry as we know ittoday? Here are some of my half-baked scenarios (HBSes) for the comingdecade, which may have implications for a number of industries and professions:
- The lines will blur between business end-users and application developers.Applications will be easy to assemble on the fly, using highlygraphical and intuitive representations -- think Visio for non-techies.
- The lines will blur between vendors and customers.Businesses will become both application suppliers and consumers.Businesses with well-tested SOA components will either rent or addapplication functionality as a value-add to existing products. At thesame time, vendors will leverage their IT assets to get into relatedlines of business. Already, IBM is getting into business processmanagement, such as call centers, while Amazon is making IT servicesavailable on the market.
- The world will become your hard disk and the rest of your computer, too.A convergence between grid computing, on-demand computing, and Webservices/SOA will result in the ability to not only tapinto data from millions of computers from around the globe, but alsothe processing power of those machines as well. Think of the grid as the "Hardware Internet."