There is still a wide gap between business and IT, with technical staff understanding too little about the requirements of the organisation, and the business users finding most technical issues too complex. Advances in technology to date seem to have made this worse rather than better.
A topic that Butler Group repeatedly revisits is that business management and executive sponsorship is an essential contributor to success of almost any project, whether it is the implementation of a packaged application or the development of a new system. However, organisations still devolve much responsibility for IT projects to the IT department. Of course, the actual development still requires skilled practitioners, but unless the requirements are clearly conveyed in the first place, and executives are enthusiastic about the project, success is far less likely. This is an area where visual tools and the 'story' concept of some development methodologies may have a significant contribution in helping the organisation to understand its own requirements more clearly.
The application requirements of organisations are changing. Types of application, such as Web self-service, attempt to automate a large amount of a business process. Consequently, the type of application needed by users within the organisation tend to be much more complex, and aimed at problem solving.
Any organisation developing applications today has concerns about the underlying platform used, and about the standards in use. Heterogeneity is a fact for many organisations, which have both Microsoft and Java applications in-house, and programmers skilled in a variety of languages and a blend of systems that have been accumulated over many years. In terms of enterprise-level, deployed applications, we believe that J2EE is still the most common infrastructure, and will remain so for the next few years, due to its relative maturity.
The concept of creating a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), where services are provided and used as required, is rapidly gaining traction. The majority of organisations have not yet begun to take advantage of this, but it is an area that should be considered as new applications are developed. SOAs will have a significant effect on styles of development, with increased use of modelling and the application of patterns, and less emphasis on pure coding. It will also promote the use of Web services as the standard model of communication between application components.