Last September, during the Gartner Outsourcing & Strategic Partnerships Summit, I had the opportunity to attend Andrew McAfee’s keynote. The session, named after his book Race Against the Machine, talked about how information technologies are affecting jobs, skills, wages and the economy. Example after example, statistic after statistic, McAfee made a well-substantiated case on how technology has been displacing humans in every task—-from robots at the assembly line, to Google’s language translation and self-driving cars.
In a world where a computer, like IBM’s Watson, can beat the best player in the history of ‘Jeopardy!,’ a game designed to puzzle the human mind through riddled sentences, one can conclude that computerization has changed the game. To stay ahead in this game, the first step is to clearly identify what is happening. Along with my colleagues, I’ve classified these changes into five key megatrends:
Megatrend One: Everything as a service. First we had Software as a Service or SaaS, then came Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), followed by Platform as a Service (PaaS), until every noun was followed by “as a Service”: business process, testing, storage, business—and the most oxymoronic of them all—Service as a Service. The truth is that high-speed internet access, in combination with virtualization technologies and globalization, are changing the way organizations buy technology and services.
Megatrend two: Consumerization. IT has moved beyond the confines of the enterprise. Consumers are adopting IT at an unprecedented rate. This is manifesting in two ends.
On the front-end, organizations are leveraging consumer IT products to outsource more and more functions to their own customers. Today you can make a deposit to your bank account, just by taking a picture of a check using your smartphone. You can directly select the seat on your flight, and get your boarding pass right from the palm of your hand.
On the back end, consumer-grade experience is setting the standards for what corporate users expect from their IT department. Users now expect the same seamless and intuitive experience from their internal systems, as the one they get from Apple products or Amazon.com services.
Megatrend three: Applications everywhere. Software is becoming pervasive, making its way into every device, ranging from the obvious smartphone apps (which exceed a million iOs + Android apps), to the not-so-obvious embedded software in cars and kitchen appliances, to the completely unexpected intelligence embedded in medicine bottles or garment tags.
Megatrend four: Digitized business world. The rise of the Chief Digital Officer, a person in charge of driving company growth by converting traditional analog business to digital business, is a testament to the relevance of technology in the future of nearly every organization. Banks stopped being a brick-and-mortar business a long time ago, as has every media or publishing company. Advances in data analytics have opened new avenues for business growth by enabling CMOs to
discover consumer behavior in unprecedented ways. Likewise, it has allowed scientists to analyze gigantic volumes of data that lead to the discovery of oil or natural gas deposits.
Megatrend five: Bifunctional IT areas. IT areas have been overwhelmed by the accelerated rate of change, having to adopt a dual role within the organization. As its primary role, IT maintains the technology platform running and up to date; secondly, IT enables digital strategies for business growth. IT stands at the crossroads of business and technology. Depending on how you look at it,
it’s the most stressing position, or the one that provides a unique vantage point in the corporate suite.
Indeed, as Andrew McAfee suggests, it is a race against the machine, and one that many people and organizations are, in fact, losing. Yet, it is in this age where human skills are more valuable than ever —notably our ability to adapt to and embrace change, while staying in control.
TweeksBI= “This week’s Big Inspiration.” Concepts, ideas, trends and things that I find thought-provoking.