Let the Kids Define our Technology Roadmap
So I think we all recognise that technology is evolving at an exponential rate, ten years ago we could see and track innovation in years, the new Nokia phone, or 15K Hard drives would have been anticipated for months, and you could prepare yourself for it well in advance. If you are a technologist in a business you had time to warm up the CFO or budget holder, you could work across the stakeholders to get them onside and by the time the product was launched you had the whole company champing at the bit. However since this took a long time other technologies had come out which either impacted the anticipated performance boost or features, or you had an incompatibility issue, which meant you had to now make another choice.
We have a problem today in that new products or new features are being released in much shorter timeframes, therefore you don’t have time to work the stakeholders in time, and if you did the product or feature you are promoting will be out of date by the time you got it agreed and deployed. And its great to a 5 year plan, but really who can currently forecast what technologies are going to be hot in 5yrs, Sure you throw the biggies at it Cloud, Big Data, Mobility but what does that really mean.
How many times have you heard this “We should use cloud to enable our business, and analyses the data on the cloud, then publish the results to a mobile enabled workforce”, Insightful statement, reality is our kids are using cloud on their smartphones and see dashboards on their likes and status already, of course business will adopt these things.
So lets think about that, what does a typical teenager today expect from their IT experience:
- Being online, all the time through multiple devices
- Access to Apps Stores for application purchase and provisioning instantly
- Collaborative working, data can be shared easily, securely
- Work from anywhere, consistant working experience
- Multitask / application integration
- Everything on a cloud
I would imagine if you looked at most CIO/CTO and CEO’s Strategy this would be a comparable list, maybe more business jargon thrown in just to help maintain the illusion but the reality is the younger generations are already doing this and more today, by the way those teenagers in five, ten fifteen years time are going to expecting these things to be in-place when they enter the workplace.
An example oft this was recently demonstrated in our home, I tried to explain to my daughter that the cloud was actually a physical building somewhere, with servers, storage and networks which were hosting and providing the apps and data she uses on her phone and tablet. She looked at me, and said, “I know” and pointed me to the `Wikipedia App` on her smartphone. It was at this point I realised that daddy was no long the fountain of all knowledge.
So what do we need to do, well first thing watch the younger generation and how they operate with IT, they are not fused by the actual devices, ok I might bow down to the Apple brand a bit on that one, but mainly they want the user-experience to be easy, flexible and in real-time. If you wish to experiment with your own kids, remove a device, then remove two, and see how they adapt. If you wish to be really cruel shutdown the WIFI in your house, this may have two effects, one they do not talk to you for a few hours, or they find another WIFI AccessPoint outside your control and reconnect, note they still may not talk to you as well. It most cases the kids will continue to work and operate, maybe in a new location on a different device, but they are working.
So next time you develop a roadmap, or think about the technology strategy for your business, consider spending time looking at how the next generation of employees would wish to work and operate, it may help thinking about what direction your business needs to take.