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4 principles that will shape the future of IT

Bernard Golden | March 7, 2016
It’s a software-driven, open source world, and we’re just living in it.

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of conferences, ranging from the most establishment events you can think of all the way to highly technical yet informal meetups. The dress at the events ranged from suits and ties to t-shirts and shorts. 

During the year, I’ve talked with an enormous range of IT people. Some work at vendors. Some at service providers. I’ve spoken to many analysts, associated from the very largest firms down to one-person shops. And I’ve talked to well over a hundred IT users, working in large enterprise organizations as well as Web-native startups. 

And the universal feeling is that IT is changing in a huge way. And that change is not just in terms of the technology used in IT – though there is incredible change going on there. But also in in the very role of IT. 

In short, person after person, no matter their role or their employer, echoed the same message: IT is undergoing a profound transformation. 

I agree. And here’s my four tenets for the future of the IT industry. 

1. Software is eating the world 

The four tenets start off with no controversy: Marc Andreessen’s 2011 Wall Street Journal editorial pointed out that software is transforming entire industry segments, including video entertainment, music, but also old-line industries like transportation, retail, and even defense. His message was that software is now a central component of every industry’s offerings, and every company needed to focus on software as a core competency. And everyone jumped on it. 

The phrase “software is eating the world” has become a standard opening slide in many vendor’s decks. More recently, the line “Don’t get Ubered” has joined it, warning audience members that their business could be disrupted by a Silicon Valley startup that is reconfiguring an industry value chain and being fueled by endless venture capital. 

In fact, software is eating the world has become such a trope that it’s trotted out as an easy shorthand to represent that change is going on – but the endless repetition attenuates the underlying truth: The shift to digitization is affecting every industry, to the disadvantage of incumbents.

Part of this is the fact that products or processes that used to require significant investment or manual effort are being replaced by digitized alternatives. More tellingly, small companies, unencumbered by practices required by analog approaches fossilized into inefficient industry traditions, can rethink the customer value chain and redesign it as a more efficient offering. 

The key challenge for incumbents is their existing infrastructure and practices, typically developed as a key part of their differentiation and competitive advantage, are now shackles constricting their ability to respond to the software revolution. 


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