Improved user knowledge is changing the status quo
When it comes to the future of IT, all too often the assumption is that the suppliers have all the answers.
When newspaper and broadcast journalists are looking for expert comment on key IT issues they usually look to the big IT suppliers. When the Government sought industry comment on its draft e-commerce bill - forerunner of the controversial RIP bill that got royal assent this month - its first reaction was to talk to the likes of Microsoft.
The poor old users, it is assumed, are simply the grateful recipients of the wisdom and technology handed down by the all-knowing suppliers.
This never was the case, and is likely to be even less so in future.
Software supplier SAP is learning the hard way that users have their own ideas about the future of the IT systems their businesses depend on. GE, the US-based giant that is one of the leading pioneers in the world of e-business, has decided to build its e-business systems using best-of-breed technology from a range of companies including Oracle and Manugistics. It is a major SAP user and would like to stick with SAP across the board, but it says the software giant has not responded quickly enough to user demands for powerful e-business solutions.
The growing importance of IT in business is forcing major companies to build up their own IT expertise at the very highest levels. Increasingly, the most successful companies will be the ones that have a clear vision of how IT can be harnessed to deliver business benefits, now and in the future.
IT suppliers, who have got used to being asked for answers, will have to learn to listen more to users in future.