The next wave of change within IT organizations will be fueled by the proliferation of consumer devices, social networking tools, and cloud-based collaboration services making their way into the enterprise, according to a new report by Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR). What Forrester calls Technology Populism will force Information & Knowledge Management professionals to rethink how they currently evaluate, provision, and support collaborative software and services. This sea change will present IT departments with a number of opportunities and challenges that will upend the traditional way that technology is deployed.

“Technology Populism is driven by people¿s needs to interact,” said Forrester Research Principal Analyst Matthew Brown. “Today¿s organizations are increasingly dominated by Generations Xers and Millennials, a workforce that is adept at provisioning its own technology and one that is willing to shun traditional methods of communication. For many employees, the telephone and email are being replaced by text messaging, instant messaging, and mobile devices, such as iPhones and BlackBerrys, and Social Computing tools like Facebook and Wikipedia.”

“One leading technology vendor told Forrester that one of its clients required Sony Playstation support because many of its younger employees used Playstations instead of PCs,” said Brown.

Other drivers behind Technology Populism include:

  • Cheap broadband at home and work. Nearly 50 percent of North American households have a broadband connection, and the Web continues to develop into the preferred platform for two-way communication and collaboration. According to Forrester, 15 percent of North American adults use social networking sites on at least a monthly basis and 34 percent communicate via instant message as frequently.
  • A new generation of applications based on network interactions. Companies are learning how to exploit services such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and for business purposes to generate sales leads, recruit talent, and test and improve products.
  • IT views Web 2.0 favorably. Despite popular opinion, IT leaders support Web 2.0 technologies in the workplace: A recent Forrester study shows 72 percent of IT departments are using some form of Web 2.0 technology.

“Technology Populism is here to stay — it is bigger than a single company or software provider,” said Brown. “Recent moves by major enterprise software vendors indicate cloud-based software is the next frontier for many collaborative offerings previously installed on corporate networks.”

“However, with opportunity comes risk and there are risks facing IT shops as these technologies — and adoption of them in the workplace — mature.”

Among the challenges posed by Technology Populism are how to govern Web 2.0 technologies, ensuring information integrity and avoiding information silos, a real issue as these new tools could create volumes of information microsilos that make it next to impossible to find information. In addition, IT departments are faced with current collaboration and Social Computing technologies becoming obsolete as Technology Populism grows.

“Embrace The Risks And Rewards Of Technology Populism” is currently available to Forrester RoleView™ clients and can also be purchased directly at