Forrester Research last week held its 2007 IT forum in Nashville, which I attended.
If there was any theme during the first two days, there it was a conceptual shift from "IT" (info. technology) to "BT" (business technology) - keynoted by their CEO, George Colony. During one of the keynotes, the oft-repeated adage summed it up: "There are no IT projects anymore, just Business Projects"
To that end, there were a litany of guest-keynoters, notably Jeanne Ross of MIT Sloan, Robert Willett, CEO of Best Buy, and others. Each of their presentations went down a relatively conceptual path of assessing organizational agility and business-readiness, alignment, and somewhat Dilbert-esque abstractions trying to align their talks with the concept of "BT"... I say this only because the audience was less one of MBAs, and more of operations executives looking for tactical trends and pointers.
However, the best talk IMHO came from Robert Beauchamp, CEO of BMC software. He's a very down-to-earth, articulate guy- even in front of 1,000 people. I was most impressed by his Shoemaker's Children analogy... that the IT (alright, BT) organizations in enterprises are arguably the least automated departments around. ERP is automated. Finance is automated. Customer interaction is automated. But IT is still manually glued-together, with operations costs continuing to outpace capital investments. He showed the chart here at right (from IDC!) which hits the point home.
However, I was rather impressed with the analysts we spoke 1:1 with. Each is closely tracking the IT automation trend, how virtualization is playing an initiating role in the IT Utility, and how this automation trend is beginning. Also most notably, I bumped into an old friend from Sun, James Staten, who was just brought on to Forrester to follow trends with the Mega Data Centers such as their economics and use of automation as well.