John Hennessey, CEO Europe, CNA Insurance, in his keynote address to ITC 2012, quoted Bill Gates to the effect that applying technology magnifies efficient and inefficient processes alike. It's true: technology works like an amplifier or an accelerator. You have to be careful how you hook it up, or the results can be devastating.
He also said our industry is increasingly a world of specialists. The days of the generalist have gone and letting people “play with the sharp knives” can be dangerous. We need to support people at the front line so they can do their jobs well, and not expect them to perform every function required by the surrounding business process.
Hennessey also said that with continuing industry consolidation, the need for common business platforms will become more obvious to all. Common platforms will enable and liberate competition, not stifle it. (As Ian Summers said elsewhere, we must “collaborate to compete”.)
Pulling these thoughts together suggests we need to restrict the use of power tools and pay more attention to services. The aim of IT should be to get information to those who need it, as they need it. The all-singing, all-dancing applications suites we're used to on the desktop must yield to more streamlined services that match specific business processes. If this is the direction we're going in, then we'll need to pay closer attention to process analysis, and the ways in which people really work.