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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Technology Themes

In my career of technology consulting, projects over the years have been driven by some high level themes regardless of:

  • the technology (i.e., network design, management, security, etc.),
  • the domain (i.e., local, wide-area, data center, etc.),
  • or the customer (i.e., retail, healthcare, banking, etc.)

To summarize roughly by decade:

Decade Theme
1980s Technology Evangelism
1990s Technology Deployment
2000s Technology Evaluation
2010s Technology Justification

I haven't been in information technology for that long, but a bit of reading showed that the promise of technology was more powerful than the available technology in the 1980s. As adoption increased, it became a race to "keep up with the Joneses" - if your competitor got a 56k connection and a website, you needed one too. As deployment leveled the field again, the power of technology increased (reference Moore's Law) and more options became available to do essentially the same thing (i.e., frame relay or MPLS for wide area networks), evaluation of the options became key to throttle deployment and get the best outcome for the investment.

Now, with near ubiquitous IT throughout enterprises, the drive isn't to create advantage with net new technology, but to squeeze advantage out of existing systems by updating to new technology. This requires a different mindset because we're shifting from building new to replacing old.

That's not to say that we're no longer building new systems or that we haven't been doing the plan, design, implement, operate (or whatever you call it) lifecycle all along, or even that elements of technology evangelism, deployment, evaluation and justification haven't happened all along. It's just that the freewheeling days of technology for its own sake are long gone.

What will the next major theme be going forward - I'm not sure, as long as it's not innovation.

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