There’s a constant dream that has been around for a number of years now, and that is the idea of “frictionless” IT. It’s a word that gests used a lot by vendors, along with “seamless.” But if everything were so frictionless and seamless as promised, we would be in cyber-heaven, wouldn’t we?

Intel floated the concept of “frictionless commerce” back in the 1990s, and in the heyday of service oriented architecture projects, the goal was to achieve a large measure of frictionlessness with the ability to match services with existing business needs.

In a couple of articles that have been recently published, commentators talk about what it takes to be more frictionless in technology delivery. Information Age’s Benn Rossi – channeling a piece by Red Hat’s Alessandro Perilli -- suggests that frictionless IT isn’t just a nice concept to dream about, it’s a matter of securing a future role for IT departments in emerging digital organizations. “Become frictionless or lose relevance,” Rossi’s article warns.

At the same time, Shelly Kramer, writing in SAP’s D!gitialist magazine, agrees that IT executives risk losing momentum (and budget) to other parts of their enterprises (such as marketing) because IT is still too difficult to work with.

In both cases, the articles make the case that IT departments change their ways, and become easy to work with, or else end up in the ash heap of corporate history.

Rossi makes the case for introducing consumeristic technology into enterprises. “Enterprise IT remains reliable, but in most cases slow to procure, complex to use, and overall frustrating,” he states. “Personal IT is instantaneously available, easy-to-understand and blazing fast at executing the tasks that enterprise IT is supposed to execute.”

Kramer urges IT organizations to look and act more like Software as a Service providers – “a prime example of where IT departments have the capacity to reduce the friction in their operations.” Also, using the cloud in a bigger way can help address efficiency drags and storage issues.

For his part, Rossi and Perilli say the friction of enterprise IT systems occurs at the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) levels. (The UI is what appears on the screen, the UX is “defined by the quality of an interaction between the human and the system and takes place when you deploy, integrate, customize and use enterprise systems,” he explains.) Ways to improve the UX, and thus reduce friction, include “intelligent installers and self-contained binaries, simplified back-end architectures, supported out-of-the-box plug-ins, modular front-ends, consistent UIs and even coherent documentation.” Speed and integration are also part of this equation.

The ultimate frictionless IT system, of course, would be one that is completely hidden from the view of users, such as embedded systems are now. We may eventually reach the point in which enterprise IT is one great “embedded” system, running entirely and pervasively behind the scenes. But at the same time, IT leaders need to be very visible, and out in front of initiatives. We may never see entirely “frictionless” IT – but responsive and agile IT is possible today.

This blog entry has been republished with permission.

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The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.

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