29 May 2007

You can't teach an old dog new tricks

They say "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." That's not always true.

In a previous post, Enterprise vs. Consumer: IBM's false distinction, I layed out the need for IBM to approach software development differently; one that has a renewed focus on the consumer, or end users. At the root of the problem is the hype around Web 2.0, the phenomenon producing countless deployments of consumer-oriented software. What was "Now with SOA" is getting the "Now with Web 2.0" shiny sticker.

If anything, Web 2.0 software has a social flair that amplifies its usefulness through the voice (and therefore content) of users. Software development frameworks and platforms, upon which much of this Web 2.0 software is built, as well, are evolving. Its not just about agile methodologies, its about agile frameworks. For instance, as application artifacts are created in Rails, test cases are automatically generated as well, encouraging a test driven development from the start.

The adoption of new technologies are taking hold at double, and sometimes triple, previous rates. For instance, in the United States, the diffusion of the automobile from 25% to 75% saturation took roughly 75 years. The telephone, nearly 50 years. Electricity, 25 years. Then an acceleration of technology adoption took place with the radio, television, and VCR taking just over a decade each to achieve this diffusion. Similar trends are currently seen with personal computers, cell phones, and the broadband Internet.

The fact is consumers, and enterprises, are becoming more adept to adopting new technologies. Let's focus on the enterprise. Several years ago, Nicholas Carr declared that "IT Doesn't Matter." Yet in recent surveys, CEOs indicate that there is a renewed focus on innovation. Carr's IT tends to focus more on the "T" in IT...technology. His technology is one of cost-cutting and efficiency, a commodity. But he makes it very clear that technology plus other factors can differentiate. He speaks truth behind the controversial title. As stated previously, the cycle of technology adoption and emulation by competitors is shrinking.

However, from my perspective, Web 2.0 shows that technology, combined with social factors, can still differentiate. And that is way it will always be..."Technology + {factor}". The organization that has the most compelling {factor} wins since technology is a commodity.

My previous post is misleading. It falsely indicates that IBM cannot evolve its culture to meet the needs of its customers meeting the expectations of its customer. Whew. That was a mouthful. There are many that get it. And there are some trying to do everything in their power to make the necessary cultural changes.

New tricks are just for kids. This is just the beginning ...Technology + {factor}