The True Agent of Technological Change

It's mobile, social, and in the clouds, but ...

About a week ago, I participated in a panel discussion titled “Consumer Driven IT: Thriving in the New Normal” which we produced from HBO Studios and broadcasted in 25 cities across the US and Canada.

I’ve had some time to digest the topics that were discussed, what the other panelists said and what we heard from over 500 IT leaders in the audience.

One thought stuck with me since the event. It goes without saying that, as a technologist, I love to talk about technology. And that leads to a lot of debating with other technologists about all manner of IT. But there’s a topic I prefer to avoid debating, and it’s not politics or religion. It’s discussing what the next big driver of technological change will be.

There is so much innovation spurring exciting changes that it’s impossible to declare one as the next big thing. That’s not stopping folks from pointing to OLED displays, Near Field Communication, augmented reality, multi-core and quantum processing, 3D displays, new UIs, HTML5, tablets, the Internet of things, social media, and more as “the big one.”

the cultural revolution is built on mobile, social, and cloud

The truth is, all of these innovations are finding their way into computing devices and applications now, and they’ll be commonplace in the next five years. Rather than look for a single driver, let’s look at where the entire constellation of drivers is taking us as an industry and as a society. Do that, and you find not technology, but a cultural revolution as the real change agent – and it is built on mobile, social, and cloud computing.

Mobile computing, social media and the cloud enable people to engage with each other, with networks, and with organizations easily, instantly, massively, and on a more personal level than ever before. And since businesses are populated by people, they are increasingly interacting this way at work too, pushing this consumer-driven revolution into the workplace.

As mobile computing devices continue their inevitable evolution, users will continue with this inevitable revolution, expecting greater capabilities, performance and interconnectivity.  It won’t be long before your smartphone will be capable of crunching quadratic equations during a 6-way 3D video chat, all while autonomously prioritizing your schedule, organizing your email, and booking your next flight.

In a lot of cases, all that data won’t be stored on the device – it will be in the cloud; and all that processing won’t be performed exclusively on the device – it will be on virtualized servers, in the cloud. In the new computing order, any device that’s not cloud-savvy might as well be a brick. And any organization that’s not mobile might as well be working with homing pigeons.

any organization that’s not mobile might as well be working with homing pigeons

So, the ultimate agent of change is YOU. Consumers are now driving IT which, it could be argued, is exactly how it should be, and should have always been.

In the good old days, it was fine for an IT project to come in on scope, on schedule, on budget. But now we have the tools and a global mobile platform that let small development teams create apps in days, not months or years. That’s the tactical piece. The strategic piece? Businesses can-indeed, must-use consumer driven IT to increase revenue and value faster, and more often, than before.

We need to use these new tools, platforms, and services to accelerate and capitalize on the productivity of a soon-to-be persistently connected and utterly untethered business world. Those who don’t recognize that consumers are driving the pace of business to a ludicrous speed will be passed by those who do.

I’m ready. Your people are ready. Your markets are ready. The tools are ready. The cloud is ready. Are you?

[This post was originally published at CA Technologies Perspectives community blog]