As companies digitize and take advantage of technological innovations to fundamentally change the way they do business, IT and business people need to stay on top of emerging technology trends and prepare to adopt those that will enable new business models and contribute to competitive advantage.
Software will play a major role in the next IT development. Think about the pivotal role of software in making cloud, mobility, and SaaS realities. Even the web itself couldn’t take off until the browser came along.
Enabling New Business Models
As I meet with customers and partners, the conversation often turns to innovation. Everyone wants to know where the next Uber, Tesla, or Airbnb will come from and what technology will drive it.
An example of an emerging technology that could eventually affect every enterprise and every government is blockchain. If you’re not familiar with it, blockchain is the technology that makes Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies possible. And it’s getting a lot of attention.
“The technology most likely to change the next decade of business is not the social web, big data, the cloud, robotics, or even artificial intelligence. It’s the blockchain, the technology behind digital currencies like Bitcoin.
Blockchain technology is complex, but the idea is simple. At its most basic, blockchain is a vast, global distributed ledger or database running on millions of devices and open to anyone, where not just information but anything of value – money, titles, deeds, music, art, scientific discoveries, intellectual property, and even votes – can be moved and stored securely and privately.” – Harvard Business Review
Don Tapscott, the author of Wikinomics, and his son Alex Tapscott, have just published Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World. Alex thinks blockchain has the power to change the world.
“Today we are caught in the grip of a troubling prosperity paradox. The economy is growing but fewer people are benefiting. Youth unemployment is stubbornly high, median incomes are slipping and new business formation is hitting multi-decade lows in the developed world. The rise of the Internet has done little to alleviate the bureaucratic bloat and inefficiencies globally, stranding trillions of dollars of dead money in the dark economy. With blockchain technology, a world of possibilities opens up to begin to address these trends.” – Alex Tapscott
While it’s too early to know whether blockchain will have the profound effect Tapscott and many others hope for, it has the potential to bring about big changes in business models.
With blockchain, we could see more discrete, specialized microservices working frictionlessly together, with near-zero transaction costs, which would open all kinds of applications in microtransactions that were not previously profitable. And because the blockchain is distributed, and each block is accessed only when it is needed, there could be significant changes to the way in which information is stored, backed up, bought, and sold.
Software as a Key Innovation Ingredient
There are many considerations for companies looking to take advantage of these emerging technologies.
Software provides needed flexibility on the innovation journey, allowing you to incorporate updates and new functionality transparently, and without disruption to ongoing IT operations. Software innovation bridges the gap between your existing IT capabilities and new capabilities, like advanced security, mobility, and collaboration, opening the door to the creation of new business models.
New software must be simple to buy, install, and maintain. Overly complex software will slow implementation and impede innovation. Consumption models will need to align closely with a company’s needs, IT budget and timetable for adoption of new technology.
So, as you evaluate emerging IT trends and advances in software, and the new business models they can enable, think carefully about how you can capitalize on these new opportunities when they arise. You can be sure your competitors are.
For more perspective on innovation and blockchain, check out The Promise of Blockchain: No Weak Links, by Cisco’s Kevin Delaney.