For anyone who doubts the power and prevalence of disruptive technologies—defined by a Harvard Business School professor as a new technology that unexpectedly displaces an established technology—just look at the speed of adoption of new technology today versus a few decades ago.
According to stats reported in Computerworld in 2012, it took the telephone 25 years to penetrate just 10% of U.S. households and another 39 years to reach 405; the color television took 18 years to reach 50% of households, smartphones “just 10 years to reach 40% adoption,” and the “tablet less than three years to reach 10% penetration.”
The numbers illustrate that the speed of adoption of disruptive technologies is accelerating, and is impacting business. Cloud computing, bring your own device (BYOD) and big data pose several challenges for organizations— capturing the attention of IT professionals, CEOs and government leaders.
In order to mitigate the security risks, costs and complexities associated with emerging technologies, it’s important for organizations to recognize which disruptors are here to stay and learn how to prepare for their adoption.
Here are four of the top game changers that will play major roles in the way organizations need to think about and build their IT infrastructures.
Prepping for Disruption
Cloud Computing - Perhaps one of the biggest disruptive technologies to come to market, cloud computing is attractive to organizations because of its scalability and security, which can lead to productivity gains and an enhanced bottom line. According to Gartner, by 2016, “more than 50% of Global 1000 companies will have stored customer-sensitive data in the public cloud.”
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) - The BYOD phenomenon is unique and impactful for two key reasons: The first is that it represents “the consumerization of IT”—the trend of personal tech products, such as smartphones and tablet devices, spilling over from the consumer environment into the workplace.
The second has to do with BYOD’s speed of adoption, which is unprecedented. To put it in perspective, Gartner predicts that “mobile phones will officially overtake PC’s in 2013 as the most commonly used devices to access the web.”
The Internet of Things - A concept that’s quickly gaining ground, the Internet of Things refers to the ability for “consumer devices and appliances, such as washing machines and furnaces, to communicate with one another via web access and a complex system of embedded sensors.”
At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), for example, was a refrigerator that can confirm it has all of the necessary ingredients for a dish and then signal to the oven to start warming up. Once the oven reaches the desired temperature, it then alerts the homeowner via a message flashed across the TV. Considering that consumers can already use their smartphones as remote controls and more, the Internet of Things will surely impact the workplace.
Big Data - According to IBM, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data—so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. All of this falls under the definition of big data and includes the data used to gather climate information, cell phone GPS signals, and posts to social media sites. Because of its volume, big data presents a significant challenge for business leaders who aren’t sure how to leverage what it can teach them.
Although there’s no sure way to address every facet of disruption, there are a number of approaches business leaders can take to prepare for impact.
Adopt a multi-vendor or standards-based approach to network infrastructure. In the past, solution providers heavily promoted a single vendor approach to network architecture as an easier, more cost-effective way to build and maintain data centers. However, given the accelerated lifecycle of today’s IT solutions, it’s no longer practical to limit company networks to just one manufacturer.
In order to control costs and maintain flexibility, business leaders need to adopt multiple solutions that integrate well with other systems, making it easier to adopt newer technologies without reinventing the wheel.
Look for IT solutions specifically architected for emerging technologies. Although there are dominant forces in network infrastructures, some solutions are architected on hardware instead of virtualization software—making it significantly more complex and costly for businesses to convert to virtualization.
In order to reduce costs and achieve increased throughput in a virtual machine (VM) environment, IT leaders should stay on the lookout for companies offering solutions specifically architected for the new generation of networking and security equipment.
These solutions will offer high-performing networking, server and storage capabilities while enabling customers to control costs, improve scalability and security, and achieve nearly unlimited flexibility in architectural design.
Train employees. Talent management experts have long touted the philosophy that people are a company’s greatest asset, and this could not hold truer than in the technology sector. To stay ahead, companies must ensure that their IT professionals are fully aware of and knowledgeable about the latest trends and developments in the tech industry.
To do this, give employees access to tools and resources that will keep them informed about new products or strategies that could affect the company. Routinely challenge them to think of new and creative ways to cut costs or improve operational efficiency through new technologies.
Take advantage of customer demo labs in order to test new solutions and see how they could impact your business.
Adopt now, benefit later. Rather than shy away from emerging technologies, organizations can stay ahead of the curve by familiarizing themselves with the latest trends, developments and solutions in IT infrastructure.
Although disruptive technologies pose several challenges, they will improve an organization’s operational efficiency and make life easier for employees.
Experts believe that by 2020—thanks to disruptive technologies—smartphones will be cheaper, computers will be able to learn by themselves and cloud computing will provide limitless power and storage.
In order to alleviate the security risks, costs, and complexities associated with emerging technologies, IT leaders should be vendor-agnostic, well-informed about new developments in technology and open to new ideas and solutions.