The end of the year tends to make us think about time. How did another year pass so quickly? What milestones might we see in the year to come? How much longer until the temperature rises to something tolerable? (That last one only applies to those of us already dealing with winter weather.)
Time can be a tricky thing when it comes to technology. One of the stereotypes of the tech industry is how fast moving it is, and that notion can create a sense of urgency. We’ve seen this with emerging technology. As the era of cloud and mobile opened the door to new possibilities, organizations got anxious to be on the cutting edge. “Move fast and break things” became a rallying cry for executives and technologists trying to accelerate growth.
In many cases, a fast pace is accurate or justified. But moving fast on its own may come with some downsides, especially if too many things are getting broken. As IT pros build plans for the year ahead, they should consider how to handle the short-term decisions around new trends while maintaining a long-term vision of strategic technology.
The Need for Speed
The introduction of cloud systems and mobile devices not only created new models for technology operations but also added fuel to the narrative of technology moving quickly. According to data from the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey, it took around 18 years for the percentage of U.S. households with computers to climb from 35% to 85%. Smartphones achieved the same adoption gains in just nine years.
The difference in adoption between cloud and previous models is more difficult to track since on-prem workloads were simply the default option for many years, but cloud migration was clearly on a steep curve even before the pandemic.
When the pandemic hit, it highlighted the costs of hesitation. Organizations that had not embraced mobile device policies were scrambling to set up their remote workers, and those without strong cloud infrastructure had far less flexibility and resiliency. Even for organizations that were early adopters, there continues to be plenty of room for growth in these areas; our IT Industry Outlook touches on the growing needs for orchestration and FinOps. A fast start with these foundational technologies, though, went a long way toward success during hard times.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
At the same time, making a quick decision without anticipating future evolution can also lead to setbacks. Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the first entrant into the modern public cloud space, and they still hold the highest share of the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market. They have built an impressive offering with a wide array of supporting tools, and many organizations that jumped on AWS at the beginning continue to find success.
However, Microsoft has built a worthy competitor in Azure, while also taking the lead in the software as a service (SaaS) category. Since so many organizations were previously using Microsoft in their server room and their endpoints, a little patience went a long way in ease of migration and continuity.
A more recent example might be blockchain and other distributed ledger technology. Here, the early hype around cryptocurrencies led many to believe that blockchain would be the data transaction mechanism of the future. This still might be the case, but the struggles of the crypto market and the lack of other well-defined use cases are proving that the technology is more likely to be deep within new applications. Organizations that dove in from the very beginning have certainly picked up some knowledge, but they have also experienced a fair amount of churn in trying to figure out how the technology will work at scale.
Cultivating Evaluation and Adoption
There’s no doubt that organizations need to move fast, but they also need to move smart. That means understanding both organizational strategy and market landscape when it comes to technology. The organizational strategy defines how technology enables success, and the market landscape describes likely paths that technology will take.
Putting that all together is becoming a critical skill for many IT pros. One way that tech professionals can help their organization move in the right direction is by leading evaluation and adoption activities. CompTIA’s research has shown that establishing cross-departmental groups for technology evaluation and adoption is one of the leading methods organizations use to stay on the cutting edge, and those groups need leadership. Business units may be driving requirements to be in line with strategic goals, but IT pros are best equipped to provide broader context, explain integration needs and ensure secure operations.
The end of the year is a great time to slow down, but things will speed up again very soon. It’s also a great time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. Our recent episode of Volley with CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux looked at new hurdles organizations may face in 2023, and building a plan for speed that also considers long-term objectives will be the best way to clear those hurdles.
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