Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pay Attention to the Trends

Twice over the past weekend I overheard people talking about the rise of businesses like Netflix and Hulu.  Getting right to the point, here are the two examples (paraphrased):

Example 1:  I was at a Starbucks behind two college-aged people standing in line, waiting to order.  They were discussing two "television" series that are apparently only available on Netflix.  The individuals were talking about how "edgy" Daredevil is and were wondering what would happen to some of the supporting characters and whether or not they would make it through the season. The second show they were talking about is called "Orange Is the New Black (OITNB)".  I couldn't pick out much of what they were saying about that one because I was a little too obvious in my snooping (in other words I got busted). I did pick out that they thought the friendship between "Piper" and "Alex" was not going to last.

Example 2: This morning I was listening to a radio show where one of the two hosts was describing how he moved his son into some college dormitory.  As they were installing the "flat screen" TV (who says that anymore?), the host noticed that they weren't near the cable outlet.  He asked his son if they shouldn't relocate it closer to the jack so that the TV could hook right in.  Apparently the son told him, "Dad, I don't watch TV.  Anything I want to view is on demand on the Internet or through Netflix or Apple TV".

Think about these two examples for a minute.  Although some might consider it a stretch, you could make the conclusion that network TV is becoming a thing of the past.  After all, if "younger" people no longer watch cable TV in favor of "on-demand", what does that mean for the broadcast business as a whole?

Being a data-driven thinker I asked a colleague to help me find some statistics on just where different age groups go for their visual entertainment.  It took her about eight minutes to find this graphic:



Television has basically been a staple of modern (first world) life for about 65 years.  Is it hard for you, the reader, to believe that could all radically change in less than five years?  Believe it or not, the era of domination for NBC, ABC, and CBS is already over.  People just may not feel it yet although advertisers have caught on.

Relevance to IT
The Netflix phenomena has direct bearing on the world of IT.  The move towards virtualization of everything has happened so quickly that the following staples of (previous) IT shops are becoming obsolete.  Consider that if you're 40 or older and in an IT career, these things may not make it 2020:

  • Company owned physical data centers - Azure, AWS, vCloud Air, and other service providers have made a compelling business case as to why a company should not own a physical presence
  • Desktop computers - with virtualization through Citrix, VMWare, Mobile Iron, etc. there is little reason anymore to buy PCs for employees.  (graphics intensive users may be immune)
  • Servers and storage arrays - remember those cool data center commercials from IBM?  Now, it's hard to find a reason to invest in a capital purchase of server hardware or storage arrays.  You can get it better/faster/cheaper through a cloud provider
  • Voicemail - does your company *really* need this service anymore?  Why not just text, IM, Skype, or FaceTime somebody?
  • Physical Offices - while, as Yahoo pointed out last year, it's important to see people for purposes of collaboration, do you really need to be in an office setting to be productive?
  • Faxing is dying and hard copy printing is fading with the Baby Boomers

One of our purposes as IT leaders and hence business leaders is to pay attention to where the currents of the world are taking us.  Pay attention to the trends in the world, your company, and the IT shop.  Things are changing so quickly and so radically that the jobs we were trained to do yesterday are not the ones we'll be called on to perform tomorrow.

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