In his post IT Doesn’t Matter – Integration Does John Schmidt makes an interesting point in respect of Nick Carr’s first book "Does IT Matter?", which caused shockwaves through the IT industry. Mr Schmidt argues that even if IT becomes a commodity there will always be the issue of integration to attend to. It is not just a case of ‘plug and go’. He focuses on business integration as opposed to systems integration, but his argument holds for both. Thus even if all hardware and software eventually become commoditised there will still be competitive advantage gained through one’s ability to integrate disparate technologies together.
To some extent using Carr’s book as a basis for argument is a little unfair as it was written for a previous biotechnological era (the post-dotcom nuclear winter). Though I admittedly am guilty of this as well in my new book. His book’s value was not so much in the logic but in the fact that it gave the IT industry and user community a big slap in the face. As a result today’s IT discussions are increasingly based around business value.
Schmidt may possibly be a technologist and this can see deeper into the issues highlighted. However as an ex technologist who is looking at trends in the marketplace, I see the whole area of system integration becoming a non-issue. Hence the death of the phrase system integrator in the description of what today are better known as IT service companies. Technologies and standards such as XML, Soap and middleware in general have taken the fun out of integration from a technologist’s perspective.
The issue of business integration is less evolved and so Schmidt’s perspective is very valid today and will be for a while. As we have seen, and will see, courtesy of the recent credit crunch, swathes of people will lose their livelihoods to be replaced by technology. As the ratio of people to technology changes the issue of business integration will go the same path as system integration.