Are you thinking about the cloud as the next great transition in computer technology? If not you could be putting your company – and yourself – at significant competitive advantage.
That was one of the clear messages from the opening round of keynotes and panel discussions at this year’s CA World 2011 in Las Vegas last night. One of the great benefits of getting out in the world and attending events such as these is the opportunity to step back from the day-to-day routine and think about the bigger picture. Not just think about the bigger picture, actually, but to listen to and talk to very smart people about the major trends affecting us all.
In his opening keynote presentation last night, CA Technologies CEO Bill McCracken talked in terms of another major shift in the computer industry. He didn’t specifically define the previous seismic shifts, so I’ll fill that in: From mainframe to mini to PC to network to Internet. And now to cloud. Having participated in the previous transformations, McCracken noted that there are always three important conditions that must be in place for the industry to change. They are:
2. The Economy
3. A Strong Business Need
Given the state of all three of these conditions today, McCracken said we’re “standing on the edge of a perfect storm.” I’ll save the technology piece for last. As for the economic conditions, we all know what’s going on and how things are tightening up. The underlying pressure point that is helping the shift to the cloud is the constant need to do more with less. On the business side, the demand is even stronger to change the model for the way businesses have to be run. In many cases, McCracken noted, CEOs and company executives have wanted to change – indeed have demanded change – but have been limited because their IT infrastructure and organization couldn’t change fast enough. That’s why the overarching theme of this year’s CA World 2011 is “IT at the speed of business.”
Want examples? McCracken cited a few that really bring the point home: Zipcar creating a new model and forcing market leader Hertz to make an acquisition to try to keep up; the whole category of e-books helping to drive Borders out of business; and, closest to home, he recalled the time when he was at IBM in the 1980s and Michael Dell created a whole new model for manufacturing and delivering PCs. “If we were not IBM, we probably would have gone bankrupt,” McCracken said.
So what are the technology drivers that are disrupting the status quo and creating this next great shift in the computing environment? McCracken cited five of them:
1. The growth in networks and bandwidth, specifically 4G broadband wireless networks.
2. Thousands of downloadable apps
3. The proliferation of inexpensive handheld devices
4. Social media
5. GPS devices
The confluence of these technologies, as McCracken noted, is “changing the world.” It’s changing the way we talk to one another, the way businesses talk to customers and the way businesses will deliver goods and services. The power is so great, in fact, that we’ve already seen these technologies being used as a mechanism to change governments.
What do you think? Are you ready for the next transition? What will it mean for you? What will it mean for your company? Stay tuned. We’ll have plenty more about that this week as we continue to blog live from CA World 2011.