OKHere is a test – do you know the following?

MySpace

Second Life

Glide

Yahoo Widgets

Del.icio.us

Chances are if you are reading this blog, you know most of these.

I was giving a speech the other day on the “Information 2.0” topic. I used a number of the above examples to highlight different capabilities and environments on the Web. I was amazed at first by how few people even knew about certain technologies or Web offerings. Then I got to thinking and realized that the pace of change on the web today is just incredible. What it means to me is that I have to quiz my kids weekly on the hot new “stuff.”

Think about it. Remember the era where we had 3 (and only 3) TV stations for like 20 years! As the Web started, I can remember exploring and finding the best sites. For the most part, you could come back a few months later and it was pretty much the same. I find now if I go a couple of months and not “look up” and check to see what’s new, I can fall behind on the hip new “thing.” Now, not everything is going to change the world but, be careful, I do believe the pace of technology advancement is going to accelerate.

I believe that there are three definitive reasons for this acceleration.

First, we have made it far easier to collaborate. Go back 25 years and think about what it would take logistically to get the best and brightest from around the world to work on a project. It cost a relative fortune and was possible only for a few things (like sending people to the moon). Today, we have effectively not only broken down the physical barriers but we have made global collaboration highly productive.

Second, the Web has essentially made access to the base infrastructure (e.g. a world-wide customer base) economically feasible for a company of any scale.

Third, we have enough base interoperability and standards that developers can innovate and leverage by leveraging other innovations while not having to build a completely new “platforms” for each application. The standards that matter are now at the SOA, Java, and .NET -- layers allowing for loosely coupled interactions between application services.

These are profound changes and I believe we will continue to see the acceleration effects, especially on the Web. Often people believe that this “infrastructure standardization” will make the infrastructure itself a “commodity”…

I believe this premise is dead wrong.

For example, a technology like virtualization actually needs a degree of standardization and network connectivity to be effective, but it also can greatly enhance and provide differentiated capabilities to infrastructures. I don’t know about you but I consider any technology that improves server utilization by like 20 to 1 - “an innovation.” In fact, I believe that, by making applications more portable across the infrastructure, we can actually innovate now at accelerated rates both with new composite applications AND with more intelligent and economical infrastructures.

In fact, when the uber-IT-systems companies dominated the landscape, you could argue that what we got was a good deal of “vertical” innovation – innovation occurring in stovepipes. These systems were geared to solving particular issues, but leverage across the infrastructure was not a priority. Our next phase will bring out a focus on horizontal innovation across the infrastructure which I believe will foster a new (and accelerated) set of innovations. These are likely to be more meaningful than we have seen simply because we will be investing our R&D more efficiently and new technologies will be able to be more easily added to existing environments.

Many think the era of rapid IT innovation is over; I believe just the opposite. I believe that we have actually just put in place the base – both in terms of connectivity for collaboration and in terms other base infrastructures – capabilities that will enable us to innovate more than ever!

Mark…

 

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