To paraphrase a well-known bumper sticker, stuff happens. In a year lacking in any singular event, we have to look under the covers to find what really happened in 2006. Sure, new products rolled off the assembly lines, notably Apple Computers MacBook Pro and Lenovos ThinkPad X60 Tablet—both cited as products of the year by eWEEK Labs. Software and Web services developers kept extending the definition of Web 2.0. Microsoft released Windows Vista, Internet Explorer 7 and many more products, while Linux distributions and Firefox continued to find more places in the enterprise.
But what really "happened"? Despite all the new products, Id have to say that 2006 was the year that technology snuck up on CIOs and IT managers. Put another way, product innovation did not find users, but users found new ways to take advantage of technology in a business climate that required resourceful and innovative management. It kind of reminds me of what Jeff Goldblum said in the movie "Jurassic Park": Life—or, in this case, wikis, blogs and podcasts—finds a way.
The use of these so-called consumer technologies sprouted up all over corporate America. The good news is that instead of fighting the spread of unsanctioned software and services in the enterprise, IT managers took advantage of it and, in doing so, empowered line-of-business workers and all those crucial contributors on the extremities of the org chart. These technologies as well as other types of social networking tools also will pay dividends as the next generation of employees starts walking through the doors of your companies.
There are plenty of other things that IT managers still have to be diligent about, such as restricting access to data and the ability to carry data out of your business unprotected or unencrypted. The theft of a Department of Veterans Affairs laptop and hard drive in May, picked by eWeek Senior News Editor Jeffrey Burt as one of the top news stories of 2006, was enough to prove that point.
It will pay to continue to watch whats not on the main agenda of the big tech vendors in the next year. Vista, Linux, Apple, storage and Web services will be big, to be sure, but its what people do with them that will make news for your company in 2007.
Contact eWEEK Editor Scot Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.