2009 year in review – ta da

I know I dropped off the world from a blogging standpoint for awhile, but those thousands of followers surely won’t be negatively affected.  So as many do, I am doing my year in review for 2009.

2009 was that year were due to the financial issues, collapse, crisis, recession, depression light and the other terms used to describe it, that technology was thrown to the back burner.  PC rotations were put on hold along with a large percentage of technology capital projects.  2010 offers a light at the end of the tunnel, but far from a year that technology will catch up to the 2009 roll backs.  It will be more like 2012 before we are near pre-2009 spending levels for most companies in the US anyhow.

While there was a great deal of writing regarding a focus on business process improvement with IT turning their focus inwards to improving efficiencies, I have frankly heard little of it in real life.  Outside, of projects that could return a clear and immediate return on investment, longer projects were rejected due to cost.  Also, as the famous quote of automating a bad process, only makes it worse states – how many companies took advantage of the atmosphere to make true business process improvement change versus just automation?  Not many I am afraid.

Windows 7 was released with a great deal of unwise fanfare by Microsoft.  As usual there ad campaign not only failed, but seemed to remind everyone of someone trying too hard.  While W7 is a fine replacement for XP, they still come off as a marketing group that is trying to beat Apple and stumbling each time.  Save the millions on adverts and put it into cleaner, leaner code base.  Make a better mouse trap Microsoft, like you once did.

Open source got a push, specifically in the desktop, business intelligence and ERP worlds, but not enough to breach the common state of awareness of most businesses.  Those small and some mid-market sized businesses took a shot at it not as software that offers an innovative solution, but a cheap solution.  Open source is still treated like the store brand of cereal or detergent than as a true competitor.  Oh, you have an open source platform, too bad you could not afford real software, sorry.

Cloud computing received a great deal of press coverage, column after column extolling it as the next great thing or dragging it through the mud.  But, did the migration to the cloud happen in 2009?  Not that I saw.  The cloud right now is the high dive in the pool, everyone talking about how they could jump off of there, no problem.  But, not right now – I just ate.

The big change in security in 2009, not a thing.  It is still difficult to demonstrate the ROI of security procedures and purchases.  Businesses will continue to operate in the environment of wait until something bad happens before we act.  Human nature I am afraid and you cannot change it.  Ask the people who recall products.  Someone has to almost always die before you get one off the self.

Finally, what is the evolution of email?  Really, it has to happen.  After all, email replaced the memo.  Remember the memorandum – a short letter with a To: From: and subject line on it.  Okay, sometimes not that short.  But, email made that process of communication more efficient as you could communicate to an unlimited number of people quickly.  It still does that, but what is the next step.  But, we use email for single word communication and we combine it with instant messages, tweets and so forth.  Here comes Google Wave which takes the memo and makes it collaborative with immediate feedback possible.  But, we are like hmmm, I am not really comfortable getting like feedback on my thoughts before I have had time to flesh them out, edit and then you know like hit send.

Well people, Google Wave is not a memo – it is a conversation.  Think more of lunch than of typing out your communication update on a project status.  You know, you start off telling a story of how you were cut off this morning by some jerk in a huge SUV and get interrupted before you finish the story by someone with their own story.  Than you finish it after their story and you all reflect on how bad drivers are and suggest ways to correct the behavior.  Replace SUV’s with projects, bad drivers with conflicting business priorities and put Google Wave or Sharepoint or whatever in place of the local Thai place dining table.  How we communicate verbally and in person we have to figure out how to do virtually regardless of distance.  It will be immediate; it will be a combination of text, audio, video and graphics.

But this did not happen in 2009 and may not for years.  Because, in truth we – aka humans, do not truly understand how we communicate.  Thus, replicating it with technology is far off.  We discuss how whales communicate or gorillas and act all pompous about it.  But, our own species still stumbles in basic communication and introducing technology makes bad communication only faster and worse.

So, to summarize 2009, we had slashed IT budgets (they were not alone by far), technology focus turned inwards and open source given a consideration by those put under the gun budget wise.  What will be the long term outcome?  Some businesses will build on what they learned they could do and thrive.  Others will forget what they learned as soon as sales increase to open budgets back up and go back to the old, comfortable ways.

While we considered the financial crisis a impetus to change, we did not get close enough to the precipice to generate revolutionary change.  It felt like it, but was not quite it.

Hello 2010, a new decade and all that comes with it.  Perhaps even a flying car and universal translator.