If you sit through any Forrester presentation–and here in Las Vegas, for the IT Forum, you can hear lots of them–you’ll hear something about the transition from information technology (IT) to business technology (BT). No longer can technology vendors "fire and forget" technology, under the assumption that their clients will figure out the business case for it. Immediate, tangible benefit is increasingly important in product design and product marketing.

IT Forum is a good opportunity to further measure this trend. When you spend a few days shoulder-to-shoulder with clients, vendors, and fellow analysts, you get a lot of pings on the BT sonar. For example:

  • Many technology companies are asking, "How do we become a more customer-oriented company?" That innocent phrase may disguise some big, wrenching, but necessary changes.
  • A consistent thread through many presentations, covering topics from SaaS to application development, is, "Users are getting ahead of us."
  • An increasing number of "Let the business people design the application" options exist. For example, on the trade show floor, I spoke with K2, whose blackpearl tool lets the people who know the real business processes help design the tools used to support them.
  • The challenges in developing value propositions have expanded. I’ll have more to say in future posts, but suffice it to say, in a BT world, phrases like "We’re the leading [fill in the blank] vendor" are even more meaningless.
  • The real secret of Web 2.0’s success is the people factor, not the technology. The technology opened the door to activity people already wanted to do, such as building collaborative web pages (Wikis), connecting with friends (social networking), and publishing journal-like content quickly (blogs).

Since I’m a stickler for the scientific method,* I’m always looking for signs that some supposition, like the IT-to-BT shift, may be wrong. So far, I haven’t found anything.

* You never prove a hypothesis, only fail to disprove. In fact, you need to design the test to maximize the chance of disproving the hypothesis, no matter how much you might cherish it.