This is the first of several posts (I'm actually not sure of the exact number) intent on exploring and explaining some dramatic changes occurring in the Information Technology markets. My aim is to not just merely report on these points, but attempt to explain why they are occurring and likely responses. At a macro level what I'm witnessing are shifts in language encapsulating a fundamentally different way to conceive, develop, deploy, manage and decommission applications. Of course we're hearing that lines of business, including CMOs, are where the IT action is, but why? Further are public cloud providers helping, hurting or catalyzing the change? These and other questions are those I hope to explore, and as the story unfolds I hope that you'll agree we're in for exciting times and new opportunities. Ok here we go, and it is "about time."
Last week I witnessed Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, and was impressed. I know it has been out for sometime and with a wonderful new addition to the family I am grateful to my wife that I could watch this movie on a big screen. So to those who would say I'm late to the party, you're right and that's ok with me. Interstellar's musings with relativistic time dilation really got me to question the statement I've been hearing of late: "The [IT] market is evolving faster than I've ever seen before in my career." In this case the "I" and "my" refer to anyone, and the utterance frequency of this statement is actually increasing. Being an engineer and closet scientist -- at least with thought experiments -- I'm often skeptical and therefore curious if this question is actually true. Mostly, the movie made me wonder if we, as IT practitioners, are experiencing some kind of weird observer derived time anomaly? I say this because I'm aware of studies, and reporting on them, that asserts aging promotes the perception of more occurring in a frame of time thereby giving you the impression of things moving faster. A key facet of this study is that people in their 20s tend to perceive and report time passage closer to the standard of 60 seconds per minute. Whereas people in their 60s and beyond tend report time durations longer than the standard: A minute was reported at slightly more than 73 seconds by those in this age range. It doesn't take much to see that subjectively those who are younger tend to have less dense time experiences while those who are older tend to have higher densities per frame of time. In fact it is almost as if those in their 20s are moving at "market light speed" with an appropriate time experience and those who are older are experiencing an inertial time experience. Therefore, when thinking about this we cannot refute the notion that perhaps the market is moving at the speed it always moves at, and due to aging we only think it is moving faster. However, I'm not done yet with this question as I believe if we look outside of the IT market we'll find that, at least subjectively, there is an acceleration of frequently changing and uncertain events.
Welcome To The "New" Normal: Uncertainty
If you look globally I think we can begin to understand why things are generally perceived to be moving at break neck speed: There is an awful lot of churn, and like the notion of time dilation, more churn observed per unit time leads to at least the perception of acceleration. Here are some tangibly abstract examples of churn: Multiple currencies seriously fluctuating, booming economies, struggling economies, hacking scandals, there's plenty of conflict to go around, diseases, dramatic corporate news, and on and on. In short I think that the world is moving to a phase where churn is high, certainty is rare, and therefore uncertainty is "the new normal." If we stick with this notion of uncertainty being a given I think we'll soon see that in uncertain times an organization, a company, an industry, a vertical, and an individual is all trying to figure out new ways to engage in their relevant and respective markets. In fact my team has uncovered that Gartner appears to be talking to various companies about the development of corporate innovation programs and novel partnerships. Such programs imply disruption, entering new markets, investing in new areas, make something unique to compete differently, reach to someplace different, ..., and more generally approach everything with a Blue Ocean attitude.
We definitely see this in the IT sector where traditional IT vendors are being disrupted by retailers/advertisers, Systems Integrators/Consultancies by IT companies, software companies by Open Source, IT teams by XaaS providers, hardware providers by component suppliers. Basically, my hypothesis is that the IT sector is merely a reflection of a larger multi-industry, multi-country, well multi-everything phenomena. Once more you can see through these tangibly abstract examples there is more that mere reflection, there is well reinforcement of the New Normal. I'd like to take a look at a practical example which I've been using a lot during the holiday season: digital/mobile payments. Essentially, the credit card industry and Apple, with ApplePay, are a great illustration of a major shift happening right before our eyes. In the spirit of reinforcing the New Normal several retailers appear to be challenging credit card companies, Apple and traditional payment schemes; yet, Apple provided a new weapon for Visa, MasterCard, and American Express to leverage. Being a user of ApplePay and never having seen its rival, CurrentC, come into the light I think that perhaps Apple is on to something. At the same time the retailers are likely looking beyond eliminating transaction fees to gathering super valuable intelligence on the consumer, such as buying patterns, to generate more revenues and profits. Having long surrendered my privacy to various loyalty programs I'm a little wary of retailers gaining additional advantage to influence what I'll buy next. Frankly, I'd rather see Apple and the Credit Card industry win out here, and let them compete with real rivals like a BitCoin centered payment network. However, the churn comes from established companies like PayPal -- who's credit card works with ApplePay -- plus ApplePay, CurrentC and at least BitCoin based payment networks. To me this means we're in for an interesting market dog fight with an uncertain outcome.
Food For Thought Questions
Until the next post here are a few questions to contemplate:
- How are we developing to account for Uncertainty?
- Are there new categories of applications being developed, and if so what are they called?
- What role do public cloud providers have in developing new style applications and is there a correlation to the Software Defined Data Center?
- Do we have to know all of the answers when we are initiating a development and what does removing the answer constraint do?