It had to happen eventually. The first fatal accident in a Tesla self-driving car. And of course some commentators have been quick to jump on ‘The Sky-Is-Falling’ bandwagon like ‘The Guardian’, who suggest consumers will ‘second-guess the trust they put in the booming autonomous vehicle industry’. And I’m sure Henry Bliss would agree; if he were still alive. Mr. Bliss has the unfortunate distinction of being the first recorded person in US history to be killed in a motor vehicle accident on September 14, 1899. Like the recent Tesla accident, at the time many commentators were no doubt quick to voice alarm and FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about the dangers of this emerging ‘horseless-carriage’ technology. At first glance it seems a natural, even appropriate human reaction, to treat new and strange contraptions with skepticism; for some that means sticking our fingers in our ears and yelling: “la la, la, la, la, la”? A response famously lampooned by Douglas Adams in his 1978 ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ where; in discussing the perils of modern life “Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place [while others] said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans”. As humorous as Mr. Adam’s tale is, if our species had embraced such a philosophy we would all still be in a cave somewhere in Africa.
In today’s fast-paced Knowledge Economy; to stay still is to go backwards. Who can remember the companies: ‘Brockett & Tuttle Co’; ‘Hitchcock Manufacturing Co’ or ‘The Phoenix Carriage Co’? The last one is a giveaway. These companies were all 19th century manufacturers of horse-drawn carriages; now consigned to history. None survived; all missingthe emerging automobile bus (pardon the pun); which for over 100 years now has been dominated by names like: Audi, Chrysler, Ford, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and; since July 2003, Tesla.
Today the same situation is happening with emerging cloud-based technologies and the plethora of devices and service (XaaS) offerings. And like the emergence of automobiles 100 plus years ago; we are seeing both managers of traditional technology and commentators alike quick to announce the perils of ‘The Cloud’ as justification for sticking with the status quo with statements like: “We need security” or “How do we control it”? or “People might miss-use our data”. Like the arrival of the automobile was to the leadership of ‘The Phoenix Carriage Co’, I think some people truly believe all this ‘Cloud’ nonsense will blow-over and then we can all get back to real IT work of looking after their Oracle, IBM, Lenovo, Cisco or Hewlett-Packard servers. But like The Phoenix Carriage Co; how many of those names; or the companies steadfastly sticking with them, will still be around in another five or ten years?
To be fair, yes we do need a strategy, tactics and plans to implement and manage the opportunities and risks of cloud-based technologies. Just as the uptake of cars spread across the world from the late 19th century; so standards, rules and regulations evolved with them. In the UK they started with the ‘Locomotive on Highways Act 1861’; amended in 1896’; in the US, New York became the first City to require cars to have license plates in 1901. That evolved into standard fuels types (91 octane and diesel) or the more recent emission regulations. Protocols and standards for cloud-based services are, unsurprisingly evolving as quickly as the technologies themselves.
I acknowledge the challenges for today’s IT Change Leaders is at least as demanding and complex as that of those 19th century companies with a fleet of horses and carriages where there is considerable investment in both human and physical infrastructure. But like the late 19th century; these new technologies don’t care; they are here to stay but like 1896; the opportunities those technologies represent far outweigh the much greater risk of standing still and becoming obsolete. And once you start to consider those possibilities, The Change Leader will discover all kinds of resources to help embrace this new world.
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At StratSim Ltd, we specialize in supporting organizations to do that; to understand their information ecosystem; centered around an emerging information-supply-chain methodology. Like manufacturing supply chains; information-supply-chains allow organizations to gain a simple, easily understood snapshot of their information architecture; the risks, the value, the opportunities, the redundancies; including what to consider migrating to the cloud; or what to leave until end-of-life. Where to focus attention and resources? And what to ignore or retire? These questions; and their answers form the basis of a cloud strategy and road-map. If that sounds like you; give us a call; we’d love to help you identify your bus and board it.