Editor's Note: This article is part of our Future of Business Technology series which focuses on what is happening to business today as a result of technology, and in turn, what's happening to the economy, the job market and IT careers.
Change is pointless without control. In the entire history of business technology, the architecture of technology has changed faster than the models of businesses. Experts in business methodologies and processes, and even philosophy, implored business leaders to change the way they work, to keep the most potent tool in business’ arsenal from evolving into a beast beyond anyone’s control.
First, they tried the reward system. Here’s the potential for everything that this newly discovered category of change can accomplish, and (surprise!) you’re the catalyst. Next, they tried Darwinism. Here’s your competitor, certainly changing its business model to take advantage of new business opportunities, and (surprise!) you’re its next challenger. Finally, they tried the shame system. Here’s the post-mortem for having failed to realize the true potential for everything this change was supposed to have accomplished, and (surprise!) you’re to blame.
Today, the business technology press talks, perhaps too much, about a trend called “the consumerization of IT.” While the most potent tool in the modern technology arsenal has become bandwidth, the most potent tool in the business arsenal remains euphemisms. And this is one. The fact that it’s so prominent is the key indicator that business technology -- the ability to fashion tools that accomplish business goals -- has not changed fast enough.
In the real world, outside of business conferences where euphemisms are first tested on unsuspecting audiences, change to business is rarely fundamental. Historically, new ideas have been integrated into businesses organically, as they should be. Information technology, according to recently published literature, has the potential to change the behavior and even the structure of your organization. But this has been true for over 60 years. The fact that this statement is still being made this late in history, generations after the first Burroughs “arithmometer” awakened accountants to the benefits of an error-free balance sheet, speaks volumes as to how little certain aspects of business have changed at all. From a driver’s seat perspective, it’s a bit like saying the way roads, bridges, and highways are designed and constructed has the potential of changing how you drive. The technical term for this type of revelation is, “Duh.”
Our understanding of what’s happening throughout our world typically lags well behind the events themselves. Modern business is information technology, and has been for our entire lifetimes. The “IT department,” as it has come to be called, is really the engineering and maintenance division of your company. It’s the boiler room. When information technology changes, your business does change. The variable here is how.
This is the first in a series of articles whose objective is to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff, with respect to the forces in the industry of information technology that are changing all of business.
Scott M. Fulton, III has chronicled the history of computing as it happened, from the unveiling of the Apple III to the undoing of MS-DOS to the rise of the cloud. Scott was one of the original online managers of the Delphi network (you remember modems, don’t you?), part of the original editorial team of Computer Shopper (you remember paper, don’t you?), the Senior News Editor at Tom’s Hardware and the original TG Daily (you remember... never mind), and for four years served as managing editor of Betanews. He’s the author of 17 books and over 5,000 articles printed worldwide in multiple languages. Scott also appears as contributing technology analyst on NTN24’s Ciencia, Salud y Tecnología. So basically, he has at least one finger in just about every medium, in hopes that maybe one of them will take root and bear fruit. You never know, something could happen. His fingers are crossed. (Which could explain the typing problems.) While he’s waiting, Scott and his wife Jennifer, herself a best-selling author (where do you think he gets it?), run Ingenus, LLC, an editorial services provider for technology and higher education publishers. Right now, their daughter is probably on Tumblr telling her friends how Dad keeps finding something new to go wrong with his VCR. You can follow Scott on Twitter at @SMFulton3.
See here for all of Scott's Tom's IT Pro articles.