It’s that time of year again: resolutions on the home front and prognostications on the business front. As I winnow through predictions for 2011 and beyond, I find myself looking not just forward to where we are traveling as an industry, but looking back over my shoulder at the distance we’ve traveled as well… that I’ve traveled.
Around 1980 I was finishing my bachelor’s degree when suddenly word came down from on high: our general education requirements had changed and all students MUST complete an introduction to computing. Grudgingly, I signed up. I remember with some amazement the vast central computing building with its beeping, card-churning computing wonder (surely Spock must be hiding out there somewhere). But I lived in fear of the student computer lab – where about 20 students were crammed into individual stations to complete our homework programming in BASIC. Every mistake, every wrong keystroke created a loud “beep!” of warning that each person in the room could hear. For a shy student just trying to complete a new requirement, it was an agonizing experience.
A short year later, I was helping an archaeologist friend input information from his recent dig into his brand spanking new IBM computer (he was a very early adopter!). It was fascinating…until I had entered information for about 30 sites and reached the point where I would type in a screen’s worth of information….and then sit back and read a chapter of a book or run out to McDonald’s while waiting for the computer to process the information.
I had no idea what I was living.
An important historical moment. The first personal computer. The dawn of a revolution in how we work, play, and socialize.
That was 30 years ago. My latest toy is a smartphone that likes to give me directions when I’m lost while driving, takes lovely photos and videos, and keeps me in touch with family and friends. The computing power of this slim phone would have been mind boggling back when I was sitting at that first IBM 5150 PC.
Technology is moving so quickly that only science fiction writers are willing to look 30 or more years in the future. These days, we can keep ourselves quite busy looking ahead 12 – 36 months. For 2011, the larger industry forecast is still full of plenty of Cloud(s), along with the growth in mobility and proliferation of tablets. This follows an accelerating consumerization trend as B2C and B2B converge ever more closely. Technology today is so prevalent, so sophisticated and so powerful that most of us no longer ask “what is in the box?” (anyone else have memories of agonizing over springing the extra $$ for an 80386 versus an 80286?), but rather “what can it do for me?” (give me directions, play games, feed the dog when I’m home late (I wish)).
Looking forward, tablets, cloud computing, mobile devices, “social” and consumer-type usability are all hot topics for the year. I look forward to tracking the trends through the year and exploring how they affect Partner ecosystems as we all adapt to fast-moving technology changes.
What changes are impacting your business and partner systems this year?