Study: IT Innovation Comes Before Consumer Demand

New research by the Arlington, Mass.-based Cutter Consortium indicates that business requirements for IT and even management trends appear to be increasingly driven by IT innovations in the marketplace, not the other way around, as traditionally believed.

A copy of the research from Cutter’s senior consultant Helen Pukszta was provided to TechNewsWorld.

“As consumers, we are accepting of the notion that consumer products and consumer marketing mold our demand,” said Pukszta. “Six years ago, did you submit your requirements for an iPod? Of course not. Do you need one now? Millions believe they do. Innovation in the consumer realm anticipates our needs and we respond by purchasing or rejecting the products.”

Solutions Seeking Problems

What is more, she said, IT innovations now allow a business to recognize a need it previously ignored simply because now there exists a solution.

“Are the market needs IT vendors spot and respond to also the needs of your particular organization? As evidenced by IT industry sales, to a large degree, they are. And in cases when they are not your needs today, they might be tomorrow,” Pukszta’s report read.

This is because traditionally consumer-related concepts like increasing the standard of living and “keeping up with the Joneses” also have their analogues in the world of business and IT — increasing the levels of productivity and keeping up with the competitors.

IT innovations are also driving business management trends, she added.

Reacting to Innovation

According to Pukszta, business users will increasingly find themselves reacting to developments in business IT innovation rather than explicitly dictating them. It is clear that business management cannot be far removed from technology and its management. It is no longer a given which one drives the other.

“As for business requirements, the reality of IT innovation has redefined the role of the IT department from that of a requirements gatherer to that of a requirements synthesizer. And it is a reality that IT managers need to understand and learn to work with,” she wrote.

There are ways to make this work to one’s advantage. According to Cutter Consortium Senior Consultant Dr. Tushar Hazra, aligning IT strategies with business goals can involve a combination of strategic and tactical initiatives.

“Strategic initiatives are top-down, where the senior leadership of a company formulates a set of principles that is incorporated in the culture of the entire enterprise and is adopted by the individual business function areas and the associated IT organizations. On the other hand, tactical alignment is bottom-up, where visionary leaders at the organizational levels of a company practice and implement the alignments and gather lessons learned, which then get shared across the entire enterprise. Subsequently, the lessons learned drive the principles for the entire enterprise,” said Hazra.

More Change

Other reserarch confirms this empowering trend. Today’s revolutionary technologies are foreshadowing even bigger changes to come, courtesy of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology, according to a forthcoming book by Prof. Glenn Reynolds called An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths.

The book hits stores nationwide March 7, 2006.

“Today, thanks to amazing developments in technology, Davids are beating Goliaths everywhere from small business out-competing big corporations to the bloggers who brought down Dan Rather and Trent Lott, from the private cyberwarriors who stalk Al Qaeda Web sites to the revolutions in media consumption, entertainment and political activism,” writes Reynolds.

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