In the Midst of a Generational Shift

Information technology is an industry that is known, recognized, and often referred to as the industry of change. That recognition is well deserved, when you think about all the changes that happen within a relatively short amount of time. Physical hardware has refresh cycles of between three and five years. Minor updates and enhancements are released quarterly and followed by major yearly releases. The actual timelines may differ slightly, but the pattern is there. This is just an example of the most common changes and challenges that we, the professionals in the industry, deal with constantly on a day-to-day basis. However, I believe 2018 is going to be the pivotal part of a generational shift that is currently nearing full swing. As such, 2018 may be the year when companies either transform or die.

Cloud computing and the technologies that support it are creating such radically new and different types of business opportunities that the only real way to implement these exciting opportunities will be to scrap most of what we know, how we operate, and most importantly, how we think about everything we currently know regarding the enterprise. Trying to adapt or adjust legacy data centers will not help get us there, nor will spending time and resources recreating cloud complexity on-site. No, adjustments are not going to work, in my opinion. Rather, the time has come to start really thinking outside of the box. I am willing to go out on a limb here in assuming that most of you have heard that expression at some point in your life—but what does it really mean in practice? Think about companies like Uber and Lyft and how they have redefined the transportation industry—or how about what Airbnb has done in the transformation of the hospitality industry.

Information technology is in the midst of a generational shift, the type of shift that happens once every couple of decades. As information technology transforms, other industries will follow suit in an attempt to keep up with the different technology advancements. Some of us are old enough to have been a part of the generational shift that happened back in the 1980s and ’90s, when the industry transformed from the era of mainframe computing to the era of the personal computer (PC). This was immediately followed up by the client/server computing model and the age of the Internet and network connectivity.

As we are currently in the midst of a new generational shift, we are at a point where things are really going to get interesting. I believe that no industries will be immune from this transformation. As such, we will have to make the decision to execute the changes needed to evolve with the technology. At this point in the process, we are witnessing the development of machines that have the ability to learn and the creation of artificial intelligence, while at the same time, we are becoming ever more connected to these systems via the Internet of Things and advances in the design of human interfaces.

The legacy data center will not have the capabilities of this new technology, nor will it be able to meet its needs. Neither will the legacy silo support structure. I think 2018 could be the year of the reorg. I do not think that these will be like the reorgs we have seen in the past, where a layoff occurs and then the organization is restructured. I believe there will be significantly fewer layoffs and more of a change in the structures of organizations to better match the expectations and requirements needed to survive and thrive in a cloud computing world. It is now the time to transform or become extinct.

Although we are all used to change, I think we have reached a point of upheaval that is needed spur the reorganization of IT support structures to better facilitate where we will end up after this generational shift has become complete. Look to your left; look to your right—who is not going to be able to transform and therefore survive into tomorrow?

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