IT– 10 Years After Y2k

© 2010 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved
President, Ministry Business Services, Inc.
Reprinted from Christian Computing Magazine

We’re at the end of the first decade of the millennium whose beginning we weren’t supposed to have survived!  There were many crazy predictions— by others— that Y2k would be the end of civilization as we know it.  Now, ten years after Y2k, what is the state of IT and its impact on The Church?

Hardware
Extremely powerful computers with multiple processors are becoming more and more affordable, making it possible for average users to accomplish great things.  The way we compute is changing, however, and manufacturers are already making shifts in their product lines.

The smartphone (like iPhones and Androids) and the tablet (like the iPad) are revolutionizing how we compute!  Notebook sales are declining significantly in light of these devices (another Steve Hewitt and Nick Nicholaou prediction made a few years ago) and will continue to do so.  Desktop sales are also declining in favor of these capable portable devices.  One of the results of their proliferation will be the growth of Cloud technology, where applications and data are on datacenter servers somewhere and accessed by these devices.

Mac market share continues to grow in the church niche, though it remains where it’s been for many years worldwide (about 10%).  The Mac OS has been improved to help Macs work well on networks and share data, and we’re grateful!  The next challenge we hope Apple will address is enterprise support.  Next-day onsite support and accidental breakage contracts would help us adopt Macs so much eagerly, and would be a win-win for all involved.  That level of support is one of the reasons Dell has become the hardware standard in the enterprise.

Pervasive Internet
In the early 1990s Steve Hewitt, CCMag Editor-in-Chief and I predicted the Internet would become so pervasive that we’d even see trucks on the road with corporate website addresses on them.  Most in the audience laughed because we were so audacious.  That prediction certainly came true, and the Internet is now a part of most Americans’ lives.  In fact, some websites are even famous for their Super Bowl commercials!

I recently served a ministry in very rural central Ohio.  I was stunned at the slow-as-molasses Internet connections in that area!  There were even times I was without a cellular signal!  It was a good reminder that many still do not have reliable broadband connections.

The impact of this reality is huge as we look at current IT trends.  The Cloud is on the horizon— in fact many are already benefitting from some of its early advantages.  But for many in the U.S. it will not be a resource or tool they can depend on until broadband becomes as pervasive for rural populations as it is for urban populations.  Inexpensive technology is available to help ISPs (Internet Service Providers) reach rural areas, but their return on investment— even when based on inexpensive solutions— will not be large.  If The Cloud is to become the next computing platform, spreading broadband is essential.

Software
This has been a good year for Microsoft Office users!  Microsoft released versions 2010 (for Windows computers) and 2011 (for Mac computers), and their improvements were significant!  Our firm recommends these versions be adopted and deployed ASAP since they bring better and more productive capabilities to users.

Microsoft also updated their server operating systems, and the hypervisor (my favorite is still VMware and is free for most churches) has become a mainstream network platform. That will continue to grow since it is becoming the foundation for Cloud strategies.

Church management software systems are growing in their focus and their ability to help us serve our congregations well.  Some ChMS providers are moving to Cloud-only offerings, which will unfortunately leave rural churches behind.  My firm’s preference is still a locally run system that has a Cloud option.

Church IT Roundtable
A grassroots movement began this decade for those working or volunteering to help their church in this crucial field.  Every church team member is impacted by technology, and the better their systems are set up, the more effective they can be in fulfilling their mission.  This group meets in various locations around the U.S. twice yearly and is a terrific resource.  Attendees share their information and expertise because we’re all on the same team.  I encourage you to help spread the word further and, if you haven’t yet, get involved!  The CITRT website is simply www.citrt.org.

Well, ten years after what was predicted to be the end of the world, we’re still here and church IT continues help facilitate the building of The Kingdom in many new and great ways.  I’m excited to see what the second decade of this millennium brings and the impact it will have to help us reach more for Jesus.

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