It’s a Monday morning in the year 2000. Executive Joanne Smith gets in her car and voice activates her remote telecommunications access workstation. She requests all voice and mail messages, open and pending, as well as her schedule for the day. Her workstation consolidates the items from home and office databases, and her “message ordering knowbot,” a program she has instructed, delivers the accumulated messages in the order she prefers. By the time Joanne gets to the office she has sent the necessary messages, revised her day’s schedule, and completed a to-do list for the week, all of which have been filed in her “virtual database” by her “personal organizer knowbot.”
The “virtual database” has made Joanne’s use of information technology (IT) much easier. No longer does she have to be concerned about the physical location of data. She is working on a large proposal for the Acme Corporation today, and although segments of the Acme file physically exist on her home database, her office database, and her company’s marketing database, she can access the data from her portable workstation, wherever she is. To help her manage this information resource, Joanne uses an information visualizer that enables her to create and manage dynamic relationships among data collections. This information visualizer has extended the windows metaphor (graphical user interface) of the early 1990s to three-dimensional graphic constructs.
Papers that predict the form of IT in the year 2000 and how it will affect people, organizations, and markets are in plentiful supply Scientific American has devoted a whole issue to this subject, describing how the computing and communications technologies of the year 2000 will profoundly change our institutions and the way we work.1 What is missing is a vision of what the IT function in a large organization must become in order to enable this progress. With some trepidation, we will attempt to fill this gap.
In the early 1980s, one of us published a paper that forecasted the IT environment in 1990.2 In this paper, we revisit those predictions and apply the same methodology to a view of the IT environment in the year 2000. We describe the fundamental technology and business assumptions that drive our predictions. Scenarios illustrate how the IT function will evolve in terms of applications, application architectures, application development, management of IT-based change, and economics.