According to a recent report from Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR), IT leaders such as IBM, HP, SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle will need to change the way they operate over the next five years to accommodate a major shift in the delivery of IT services. Instead of buyers integrating technology themselves, it will be assembled and managed by outside providers.

Forrester sees this shift creating a new IT ecosystem in which the top vendors will have to partner to deliver solutions and services. Four groups will be formed to provide IT services:

  • Operations consortia members: Future members, such as Dell, EDS, IBM, HP, and Accenture, will deliver a utility-like service to the enterprise.
  • Component communities: Composed of companies like SAP, Microsoft, Google, and, this group will create and source IP.
  • Process transformers: Companies such as Accenture, Microsoft, IBM, Capgemini, and Oracle will create the bundles that embed emerging technologies and concepts into a managed offering.
  • Solutions brokers: These will often assemble the IP of platforms, apps, and devices into bundles sold directly to the marketplace or to other process transformers. Examples include Accenture,, Keane, Oracle, and Infosys.

IT buyers will also face new challenges in effectively harnessing the support and help available from service providers. As commoditization, miniaturization, industrialization, and globalization necessitate a change in the IT landscape, buyers will need to adapt to the ever-quickening pace of competitive change. In addition to this, buyers will face the growing complexity of the integrated components of a Digital Business Architecture, such as IP telephony, utility computing, and virtualized storage and business service management tools.

Andrew Parker, Vice President at Forrester, states: “The underlying drivers of commoditization, miniaturization, industrialization, and globalization outlined in our report aren’t new, but their convergence will accelerate this market shift and make it stick. We’ll see stable operations farmed out to third parties, new IP sourced from open communities and solution brokers, emerging technologies going to market wrapped in process bundles, and new software investments based on subscription rather than ownership.”

The report raises the following issues, and it¿s essential that all IT companies address them:

  • IT is increasingly driven by the business, which in turn wants services, not assets. Sixty-three percent of respondents report that, compared with two years ago, their IT strategy is more influenced by business leaders outside of the IT organization. A similar number (64%) feel that business leaders will have even more control over IT two years from now.
  • Balancing best-of-breed against fewer vendors requires an intermediary. Buyers want the reduced hassle of dealing with fewer suppliers, but at the same time, they want to keep their technology options open and their technology advances flowing. CIOs can’t have both unless a trusted intermediary is added to the mix, whether it’s for brokering deals, managing providers, or informing the resulting architecture.
  • The desire of IT shops to do-it-themselves is waning. SAP and Oracle increasingly position themselves more as software platforms than as packaged apps, but a component- or SOA-based world won’t fit together neatly on its own. In our latest survey, 43% of CIOs professed a preference for service providers to assemble best-of-breed solutions for them. Adding edge technologies like RFID, mobility, and business rules software creates a pace of change too great for most IT shops to keep up with.
  • Outsourcing is now viewed as more than just an available tactic. Outsourcing used to be seen as a salve for failing organizations, but now 53% of respondents consider business process outsourcing or IT outsourcing as key to their company’s strategy. Even among those who don’t outsource, one in four feel that outsourcing will increase in importance for their business during the next two years.

The report mentioned in this release, “The Emerging IT Ecosystem,” is authored by Andrew Parker and Tom Pohlmann.