This week was a reconfirmation that information management professionals are facing a perfect storm. Two years ago, we wrote on a topic we call Technology Populism that looked at both the business opportunities and threats presented by ubiquitous information sharing tools inside and outside corporate networks. In a nutshell, we argued that information management professionals would face: employees demanding access to corporate systems using their consumer devices; cloud-based collaboration software services that offer hard-to-beat economics; and increased complexity in managing the trust, integrity, and risk associated with information on corporate networks. Since then all three have proven valid trends. Consider three IT pros I spoke with last week at a Novell customer panel. They represented a major university, a hospital, and a law enforcement agency.

  • The university IT pro just gave in to demand for peer-to-peer file sharing. After his multi-year fight against student use of peer-to-peer file sharing, this IT pro finally succumbed to student demand. He's already using Google Apps for student email. Why? He couldn't compete with free.
  • The hospital IT pro already plans to support iPads for doctors. Reacting to demand from young doctors, he's in planning stages to support hospital apps on Apple's iPad (Wow! It's only been out for a month, right?). Unlike the university IT pro, the compelling economics Google presented directly to his team for mail and productivity were not enough to convince him the service was ready for hospital staff. What's he waiting for? More examples of other HIPAA-regulated organizations using these services.
  • The law enforcement IT pro voiced concern about cloud security, reliability, and auditability. This IT pro is very concerned about security and reliability of cloud services like Google Apps, Microsoft BPOS, and IBM LotusLive. However, he did admit that regional government consolidation of IT services means that the decision to use one of these services "might get handed to him."

These stories share something in common: the role of information management professionals is getting much more complex. New applications, new devices, new deployment models, and changing workforce demands have the promise to reduce IT operating costs, improve productivity, and increase IT satisfaction. Yet the perceived risks remain high. Increasingly, information management professionals will be put in the position of navigating an increasingly complex set of solutions. We'll share some current Forrester thinking on collaboration, content, and cloud-based services during the events below:

  1. A Forrester Teleconference, "Microsoft Launches SharePoint And Office 2010: What You Need To Know," on May 14, 2010, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Eastern time.
  2. Forrester's IT Forum 2010 on May 26-28.* The track this year will look at both current-generation collaboration products like SharePoint 2010 to next-generation tools like Google Wave, Novell Pulse, and IBM's Project Vulcan. We'll also spend a good amount of time discussing what it will mean to manage, retain, and discover information to meet enterprise requirements.

In the meantime, how are you managing this storm?

*The Early Bird rate for IT Forum expired April 9. If you haven't registered already, call our Events Team at 617.613.5905 with discount code ITXBLG, and they'll extend the $200 discount for you.