The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Is it time for our perspective of computing to change - again?

I was in a discussion today with some folks that are part of the Service Futures SIG of ISSIP. We were talking about the technology trends that will be shaping our approach to addressing business problems in our organizations. During the discussion I realized we may be passing through a threshold without even knowing it.


copmuting waves.jpg

The Y axis on this graph is IT % of GDP


Each generation of technology in the IT space seems to last somewhere between 16 and 20 years.

The first generation of computing was described as the mainframe era. Data was scarce and computing time was even scarcer. The operating system and 3rd generation languages were the killer application of this age. There really wasn’t any networking. It ran from 1956-1976.


The 2nd generation was when the personal computer came on the scene. Data was still relatively scarce but computing was more available. We began to have a personal view of our data. Networking also arrived. This era ran from about 1976-1992. The killer application was the spreadsheet.


The 3rd generation was focused more on network computing. The various systems were tied more tightly together, TCP/IP was accessible everywhere. Data moved around but remained relational in order to be useful.  The browser was the killer application and this era ran from about 1992-2008.


Now we have entered into a new age. The age of IT everywhere with machine to machine, sensors and contextual awareness. We’ve moved beyond mobile being a simple extension to the backend of the enterprise into being the real interface for most interactions. We’re still focused on structured data to a large extent, but have found new ways to tease structure out of what used to be unstructured and unusable. Efforts in the machine-to-machine space will likely be the killer application, but I’m not sure what it will be. Based on previous performance we’ll be in this wave until 2024.


What is interesting though is that in every case, the way we viewed computing at the beginning of the wave vs. the mid-point was very different. The .com era of the 3rd generation is a perfect example. Once we moved past the turn of the century into 2001, everything started to look different. The mid-point for this wave is 3 years away and closing fast.

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