Cloud: The Next Truly Transformative Innovation
From the IT Executive Symposium at Cisco Live 2012
We all dream of inventing the next breakthrough product, or creating the next company that no one can live without. The truth, however, is that innovation rarely occurs that way. Innovation isn’t just about invention—it’s about creating value. And it isn’t just important—it’s critical to a company’s growth and success.
Every few decades, something truly innovative occurs—a transformative development with global impact. The human species has pulled away from the rest of the animal kingdom predominantly because of our ability to communicate and collaborate. Every time we make a major improvement in the communication/collaboration arena, innovation accelerates at an exponential rate, and humankind moves forward dramatically. The printing press moved us from spoken transmission taking months, to printed materials that could reach the masses in weeks. The telephone gave us instant communication over any distance. The Internet moved us from paper to electronic processes. And today, we are on the cusp of the next truly transformative innovation: the cloud.
The Internet brought about a global transformation of seismic proportions, heralding the digital age and, to quote Thomas Friedman, “flattened the world.” Today, through the concept of the cloud, we are undergoing a similar, foundational transformation from physical computing controlled by us in our data centers to a virtualized, logical world of services, none of which we directly own or control.
As a former CIO, I look at this from an architectural point of view. A cloud strategy moves appropriate data and functionality from behind corporate firewalls to a location where anyone we choose can gain access. This fundamentally changes the game. We can now conceive of wholly new business models and revenue streams, significantly ease the ability to collaborate on a global basis, and dramatically increase agility while simultaneously reducing operating costs. As for innovation, the cloud opens up the ability to invite the entire world to come play in our sandbox. Open innovation becomes a true reality—not just to capture ideas from customers and partners, but actually to engage them in the entire innovation lifecycle.
With new ideas come new challenges, and cloud is no different. Security has long been one of the biggest issues, but these are being overcome. At Cisco Live 2012, we made several announcements around our Cloud Connect solutions that address this very issue. We are now “safe” to move forward on our cloud journey. While as leaders we have the duty to concern ourselves with these new challenges, we should never let them distract us from driving toward our vision. The greatest leaders in history have often established their vision and goals in the absence of known solutions. Think of President John F. Kennedy’s bold prediction about putting a man on the moon—nearly a decade before the technology existed to do it. Similarly, failure to capitalize upon the “race to the cloud” will have dire consequences for those who are late to arrive—just ask those who waited too long on the Internet shift (if you can find them).
Set your sights high and begin the journey—the solutions are coming.