IT research and consulting firm Meta Group has earmarked integration as the next major industry S-curve.
Meta president and CEO Fred Amoroso said host-based environments, distribution networks and e-business were all major S-curves and pointed to developments in enterprise application integration (EAI), electronic data interchange (EDI), XML and other Web services as evidence that another major sea change is on the way.
"Integration will be the next big thing as companies increasingly look to cut the cost of business processes in a shrinking world by crossing enterprise boundaries. This will get tremendous investment, and integration will be our core topic next year," he said.
Amoroso said the consultancy industry had been hit hard by the recent IT downturn, but claimed Meta was differentiating itself from competitors by becoming more interactive. He suggested that some research companies are trying to increase product range and decrease the cost of fulfilment but stressed that Meta would continue to operate on the belief that research has limited value without understanding specific customer issues.
"As IT budgets fall, the first to be hit are research and advisory companies -- there is no getting away from that. Businesses that had two, three or more relationships to canvass different opinions are forced to make advisory reductions in a down environment," he said.
"Some of our competitors are creating more products and dissecting the IT industry into thinner slices, but we haven't done that because customers don't implement technology in little slivers.
"Some companies in our space are trying to decrease the cost of fulfilment by reducing the number of analysts and moving the business to an electronic medium, but this removes personal interaction," he added.
Meta claims to be growing its market share and customer base, with Amoroso estimating its global business renewal rate at 80 per cent compared with an industry figure of 60 per cent.
Paul Ventura, managing director of Meta Asia-Pacific, said the company had achieved a 60 per cent compound growth in billing within the region during 2001.
"The perspective we bring is leveraging a wide range of technical expertise with business sense on top of that. It sounds basic but so many companies fail to see the need for technology to drive business needs," he said.