The Technology Cartel’s Twilight

Atoning the original sin of technology hyper-acceleration

January 1, 2017

The direction and pace of human evolution over the past two decades has been founded on the singular force of technology hyper acceleration. Since 1995, the power of computing has increased over 50 fold while the cost has been reduced to a third; the pace of content creation has increased over 500 times, the availability of content at any given time by 10,000 fold, and the speed of content dissemination by over 3.5 billion times.

The convergence of innovation and enterprise which made this unprecedented proliferation of technology possible, however, was marred by an original sin which, in under a generation, has unraveled much of its progress and impact. The first wave of widely available technologies remained a closely guarded and proprietary preserve of innovators and entrepreneurs, who eventually morphed into the corporate colossuses of our time. The cumulative impact of proprietary, inflexible, and incompatible technologies has led to an environment where enterprise technology has become wasteful, expensive, failed, and obsolete – a betrayal of the possibilities ushered in by the last generation of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Some of the primary challenges with current models include:

  1. The Continued Squandering of Enterprise Value. The most prevalent manifestation of the challenges with current models is in the stubbornly high cost of enterprise technology, driven by continued and increasingly inefficient spending on non-essential technologies, when by all measures these costs should be declining as rapidly as they did in the last 20 years.
  2. The Rise of Unacceptable Costs. When enterprises do rouse themselves from the stupor of self-inflicted complexities related to technology operations and lifecycle management, they are faced with the second and most egregious adverse impact of current models. While almost all business strategy is now predicated upon technology innovation, this becomes prohibitively expensive when confronted with the complexity and inflexibility of traditional technologies which make up the bulk of enterprise investments.
  3. A Track Record of Failure. In cases where enterprises decide to proceed with technology initiatives despite, or more likely due to ignorance of, these high costs, the success rate is abysmal. The old adage among a certain breed of technology managers, thrown around without questioning the inherent defeatism and absurdity of the premise, was that technology initiatives could meet two of cost, schedule or quality objectives, but not all three.
  4. Obsolete at Birth. A fourth chapter in the saga of traditional technology revolves around the ultimate manifestation of the irrelevance of current models – “obsolete when implemented” technology solutions. Long planning, acquisition, and execution time frames for traditional technology initiatives mean it takes 30-36 months on average from initiation to execution.

Since 1995, the power of computing has increased over 50 fold while the cost has been reduced to a third; the pace of content creation has increased over 500 times, the availability of content at any given time by 10,000 fold, and the speed of content dissemination by over 3.5 billion times.

The Emerging Challenge

While current technology models have built into their very fabric the near certainty of inefficiency and failure, they have sustained their dominance, primarily due to the lack of credible alternatives. Enterprises have grown accustomed to wasteful, expensive, failed, and obsolete models, and accept suboptimal results within the constraints imposed by these models as somehow being evidence of success.

The Fatigue of the Abused. Long-suffering enterprise business leaders are beginning to take a stand against the failed assumptions and planning principles of the past and are beginning to see technology, with its inability to meet business needs for accelerating change, as a barrier to innovation.

  1. The Open Technology Revolution. Driven by a frustration and in many cases deep ideological disagreements with the current models, and spurred on by the growing demand for alternatives, a new generation of technology solutions is emerging.
  2. Relationships That Work. The final piece which completes the picture is the emergence of strategic relationships between enlightened clients and a new generation of technology firms, which provide open technology platforms and related services predicated upon flexibility, ongoing modernization, and alignment to business priorities, at low or no cost.
  3. We anticipate that by 2020, business-aligned contracts and zero cost models will form the majority of technology relationships, adding to the vast supermajority of relationships based on open and flexible technologies.

Asteroids and Dinosaurs

The market is uniquely positioned at an inflection point away from the discredited models of the previous generation, and toward a truly open, flexible, and business-aligned model, restoring technology to its original promise and purpose of driving innovation. There remains, however, securely ensconced in the middle-management permafrost of enterprises, a large group of decision-makers and influencers who have a vested interest in perpetuating traditional technology and service models as a way to prolonging their relevance.  The days of supremacy
of this particular species are

numbered. Over 75% of senior business executives are actively exploring new technology relationships and are increasingly the decision makers, forcing the dinosaurs to evolve or go extinct.

The Insurgent Manifesto

Enterprises, technology companies, and service providers need to take tangible actions to challenge traditional models and the forces of incumbency and inertia, based on providing tangible, practical solutions to business leaders clamoring for change. This change needs to be rooted in five key philosophies:

  • Learn to say no;
  • speak truth to power;
  • insist on openness;
  • increase velocity of innovation; and
  • put the enterprise back in enterprise technology.

Together we can usher in the end of an era known as much for the promise of technology hyper acceleration as for the potential that was never achieved, an era when decentralized innovation and enterprise was corrupted into the concentration of power and control. The inevitable rise of open technologies in an as-a-service economy will finally reconcile the contradiction between innovation and inflexibility. The declining financial fortunes of traditional technology models will accelerate into an eventual demise.

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