- Major Studies
- Market Assessments
Information technology goes far beyond the realm of enterprise IT. New technologies, such as big data, mobile applications, and cloud computing hold promise in addressing many of the world's great problems, while at the same time offering strategic advantage for businesses. Corporate IT leaders, therefore, need to reach outside their narrow focus on ongoing support to incorporate these new technologies to deliver business value.
This was a key takeaway from the Future in Review 2013 (FiRe2013) conference last month in Laguna Beach, CA. FiRe bills itself as "the leading global conference on the intersection of technology and the economy." It is an annual conference of the Strategic News Service, which publishes research under this broad theme.
Although FiRe is focused on technology, it is largely outside the boundaries of what is typically considered "enterprise IT," or even "consumer IT." It even goes beyond "line of business IT." It is about future-oriented issues involving the impact of technology on economic and societal interests. Under this year's theme, Digitizing the Planet, the agenda covered a wide range of focus channels, including computing and communications, economics and finance, education, energy, healthcare, environment, global initiatives, and pure science. Presenters included big names, such as Vint Cert, the "father of the Internet," who is now Chief Evangelist at Google, as well as a host of visionary thinkers from a variety of disciplines in the private and public sectors.
For enterprise IT leaders, FiRe offers an chance to move outside the usual track of user and vendor conferences. It is also an excellent opportunity during the breaks to speak one-on-one with professionals outside of enterprise IT circles.
Here are some of the big ideas that caught our attention and what they mean for enterprise IT.
The expanding role of technology is not only a challenge for enterprise IT leaders, it is also a challenge for IT vendors. Nearly every major enterprise IT vendor has its visionary initiatives. SAP has HANA, Oracle has its Exa-boxes, IBM has Watson and its Smarter Planet initiatives, and so forth. At the same time, these vendors have enormous revenues in legacy technologies: SAP in its Business Suite, Oracle in its collection of acquired software and hardware technologies, IBM in its legacy hardware and systems integration business lines, and so forth. If IT organizations are challenged to rise above their legacy system support requirements, so too are IT product and services providers. Can the major IT vendors meet the challenge, or will a new generation of big data and cloud providers take their place?
One note on the conference format itself. In contrast to most technology conferences, which feature highly scripted keynotes and breakout sessions with single speakers, the format of at FiRe is nearly all panel discussions or one-on-one interviews. This format promotes a much more conversational and spontaneous style. The moderators or interviewers take a minimalist approach, guiding the discussion where needed but not becoming a center of attention themselves. Mark Anderson, the FiRe conference chair, and Ed Butler from the BBC hosted a number of sessions in this style. Other conferences could learn from FiRe's format.
The registration page for the FiRe 2014 conference, May 20-23, 2014 in Laguna Beach, CA, is now open.