Technology Innovationion and The Future

    For time out of mind, the smart way to buy technology has been to assume that vendors manage the IT product lifecycle. Now, however, that’s changed. While smart companies have reinvented their acquisition and deployment strategies, too many other companies are still trapped with obsolete technology that limits competitiveness because of poor purchasing strategies.

    Ever since the dot-com era began, the watchword for IT planning and purchasing has been flexibility. Things keep changing, and the pace of technological innovation keeps accelerating. Gone are the days of multi-year product life cycles. Even cellular carriers are recognizing that people want to upgrade their smartphones every 12 months, not every 2-3 years. Operating systems, CPU chips, even core enterprise communications are changing faster than they’ve ever done in the past.

    Apple’s introduction of the first iPhone was an easily identified game changer, and yet it took many years for BlackBerry to recognize it as a genuine threat to its ownership of the Fortune 500 mobile space. Now it’s difficult to find a large corporation that relies on BlackBerry devices, and those that do are typically staffed by professionals who have the BlackBerry in one pocket and an iPhone or Android-based phone in the other.

    Meetings have fundamentally changed, too. They no longer take place in conference rooms, but rely more on videoconferencing and web formats. Flexibility is the watchword, and modern conferencing solutions should support audio, video, and web-based solutions, whether the employee is on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, in the office or at home. The future will likely bring more, not fewer, options.

    Work itself is also evolving, whether it means staff put in hours while parked at the neighborhood coffee shop, checking in from an overseas trip, or on a six-month maternity leave. A modern IT solution – and security strategy – has to account for the work shift from desks in the corporate office to a disparate, widely spread workforce with various technologies and levels of tech savvy.

    Disruptive technology used to be less frequent. Industries like education, automotive, and telecommunications have lasted a century without dramatic changes. But now, industries come and go far more quickly. New tech replaces old tech without warning. Ask someone in the publishing or news business; watch online education force a redefinition of higher education; and consider how driverless cars and drones will alter the transportation landscape dramatically in the next decade.

    A high degree of flexibility is the only way to survive in this new era, because it offers the ability to respond to these new, disruptive technologies with agility.

    Consider how technology deployment, usage and support have all changed: A few years ago, communications systems ran on dedicated hardware. Then trends shifted to racks of standardized “appliances,” then to virtualized services, and now to the latest IT architecture, built around cloud-based solutions, where there’s no hardware in the computer room at all.

    Even how we use tech has changed, from phones on a desk to soft clients on our mobiles. Without a highly flexible implementation strategy, odds are good that you’re heading toward obsolescence far faster than you anticipated.

    The industry isn’t standing still on the innovation side, either. The democratization of video and improvements in video codecs, browser-based communications, speech recognition, and HD voice efforts are all examples of emerging technologies in just the telecom space. How we communicate will continue to change at an aggressive pace, so it’s critical to ensure the underlying technology is highly flexible, modular, and scalable.

    The problem is, there is no way to predict future requirements, and so the only recourse is to heavily evaluate the present degree of flexibility in both vendors and their solutions. It comes down to this simple reality: If you’re responsible for IT planning in your company, and you don’t have flexibility – the ability to change in an increasingly unpredictable world – as the cornerstone, you’re setting yourself and your company up for failure.

    Albert Einstein said it best: “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

    Are you ready for change? Is your company?