News and views from this week in tech. What inspired and encouraged, shocked and appalled? Here’s our top 10.
1. Cloud: Build or Buy?
We start this week’s roundup with arguably the biggest tech question for enterprise today, “Should we build our own or buy a cloud service?” The pros and cons of both have long been debated, and the goalposts move almost daily, but one thing always holds true. Your chosen route MUST meet your unique demands as a business.
When it comes to the cloud, off-the shelf is not the way to scale. This leads me to a very interesting article on the thought process and ultimately game-changing decision by Dropbox to move their IT infrastructure away from Amazon AWS.
Several sound-bites were particularly enlightening, but one makes things clear, “for us, it was about quality and control and management. We know there are solid third parties out there with [high] quality and performance, but we felt ours could be equal or even better because we know the system so well.”
When it comes to your cloud strategy, what is important to you? Understanding that will ultimately mean you make the right decision.
Which leads me to…
2. Which Cloud?
In the battle of Amazon AWS vs. Microsoft Azure vs. Google Cloud, who will come out on top? An interesting article on the future of cloud partnerships was published this week, which specifically looks at the re-positioning of Microsoft as a company – and that’s pretty eye-opening – but extensively debates the relative merits of going in either direction.
Good read: Azure Is the New Microsoft
So what are your choices? Well, “given this new reality, the first step is untangling the various cloud vendors and finding the best fit for an organization’s cloud strategy.”
Can anyone match the big 3 when it comes to cloud partners? The article provokes a thoughtful discussion on the relative merits of two VERY different approaches.
3. Cloud Supremacy
Now, this is getting a bit boring! It’s a bit rich when 3 of my top 10 tech articles of the week center on the cloud, but it is where we are at with technology today, and this is an obvious selection.
Here’s an article looking at the other side of the fence to selections 1 and 2 above – from the vendor’s, not the consumer’s, perspective. It looks at the keys to successfully starting and running a cloud company, and the points of reference are well constructed. Choose Reality, Metrics, PADRE.
Good read: Cloud Success: Grow Fast Or Die Slow
The opening line says it all, “even though the enterprise cloud business has been around for nearly two decades, the opportunities are still enormous.” To my mind, if the biggest and the best, i.e., Amazon with eCommerce, Microsoft with software and Google with search, can completely revamp their business models from VERY different initial offerings, then shouldn’t everyone be looking up into the cloud?
4. MI Not AI?
With plenty of scare-mongering about the future impact of AI (Elon Musk amongst others), it was refreshing to hear a different perspective this week – one that embraces where the technology is heading and what we can look to achieve.
What was most striking was John Giannandrea’s (head of machine learning at Google) actual perception of AI, and how it isn’t actually driven by ‘artificial’ intelligence.
“I almost try to shy away from this term artificial intelligence — it’s kind of like big data… It’s such a broad term, it’s really not well defined. I’ve been trying to use the term machine intelligence.”
As AI becomes more accepted and universally deployed across industries, there is no doubt it will need to be heavily regulated, rigorously tested and scrupulously managed with human intervention. As such I would suggest machine intelligence is indeed the key because it fuses artificial intelligence and human intelligence for practicable application.
5. Augmented Reality
Where 1) the cloud gives us the perfect platform for digital transformation, and 2) big data enhances that transformation in all walks of life, we see how these two trends have now actually become the bedrock of technological innovation in 2017.
Case in point, “we are on the brink of a new age of digital storytelling, one that will be steeped in augmented and virtual reality experiences. Augmented reality is changing the game for good.”
The cloud gives AR/VR the platform, and big data makes it relevant for real-world deployment.
While it is interesting to read how MTV, National Geographic, and Adobe are ahead of the curve on AR/VR, I wonder – with considerable excitement – what can be done for the good of humanity in this brave new world of technological innovation?
Taking a view on the issues that affect companies challenged by rapid technological advancements in the financial sector. Today, traditional considerations around culture, diversity and talent matching have been matched – if not trumped – by the need to embrace digital transformation.
For the Fintech industry – and I would suggest the entire financial services sector – removing barriers to entry of using tech, and scaling operations around customer experience requires a new business model. One that embraces technology in ways that consumers want to use it, rather than how the industry wants them to. Wishful thinking?
What! Legitimate companies are hacking too? You don’t say!
This is a fabulous read, deep and extremely insightful. On the subject of how it is almost common knowledge that companies see ‘hacking back’ at cyber-criminals as a bona fide cyber-security strategy.
Good read: Inside the Shadowy World of Revenge Hackers
Now, various nations are exploring the legal and ethical implications of ‘revenge hacking’ because the practice is becoming more and more widespread. Simply because “sitting on the ropes and taking a battering day after day is not sustainable as the level of attacks continues to rise.” As a result “more companies may start offering hack back services as multiple countries look into legally allowing companies to retaliate.”
In a digital world, one where billions of devices connect, communicate and collaborate in the blink of an eye, are we heading for troubled waters here? If companies are taking the law into their own hands, because they deem it the best way to protect themselves, don’t such almost vigilante acts pose a hugely important question, which is more important, the truth or the law?
8. Death To The IT Department?
“There may be evidence that the movement to cloud computing and workplace automation is slowing IT hiring.” You don’t say.
Sarcasm aside, this is an excellent read on the predicament facing IT departments in their increasingly difficult quest to stay relevant. Today, just consolidating (forget expanding) would be nice when it came to IT budgets, resourcing and strategy.
Good read: IT Department Hiring Now at Zero Growth
And yet for all this, I would hazard a guess the IT department will never die. In some form, any organization with the size, structure, and scalability to even need an IT ‘department’, needs in-house staff who are trained in the latest technologies to make it run. As the article says “the hiring that is happening in IT departments is in areas such as mobile development, business, and data analytics.”
Of course, as more and more in the world of IT moves to the cloud, the traditional in-house infrastructure will die. But much like the traditional physical server became almost redundant to virtual servers, and traditional software packages were replaced by online apps, the IT department will evolve around future tech trends.
As long as we have advancements in technology that revolutionize our working world, we will always need the IT department. It’s the skills mix within that will always need to change.
Talking of hiring in the IT industry, another article this week makes for interesting reading. On the subject of ageism in the industry, and more pertinently, is age REALLY an issue when it comes to modern-day roles in tech.
I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years, and in all that time I’ve never seen a successful company that DOESN’T have a good mix of youth and experience. Technology is not merely a young person’s game. Sure they have the dynamism and lateral thinking to adapt quickly to new technological innovations and trends, but only with experience of running projects, nurturing clients and managing company assets can you truly make technology the great enabler for change your business is looking for.
In the technology sector, you need a balanced approach to recruitment. From personal experience younger generations visualize making things happen in new and dynamic ways, older heads drive practical application.
10. Social Responsibilities
There’s a lot to like about the noises various social media networks are making today about tackling issues of cyber-bullying, anti-Semitism, racism, and terrorism. But actions speak louder than words – which takes me to my final selection of the week.
The title alone is startling but tells us a great deal about the mentality of those within senior positions at these companies. From Luke Wood (head of design at Facebook) – “We’re not always going to get things right the first time… There’s always more work to be done to make things work better.”
Is it not a scary thought that these seemingly omnipotent social networks aren’t actually holding themselves accountable for past mistakes? The impact they have, the culture they feed? The fact they can kind of shrug their shoulders and say “oh well, we’ll get it right next time,” is shocking when you consider the impact they have on society.
Social networks are part of the problem, more than they are the ones to propose the solution. No doubt they play a crucial role, they are after all so influential, so ingrained, so ever-present. But instead of playing digital god, they must consider the impact of what they have built/what they are rolling out next, and the net result doesn’t just revolve around their bottom line.
To Facebook, Twitter, et al. you have to get it right first time, every time. Unrealistic maybe, but a harsh reality indeed, because the implications of not doing so can cost lives.
Until next week.
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COO and co-founder of Creative Mindscape. Lover of marketing, psychology, tech and all things sport. Family man with a passion for living life outside the rat race and chasing your own dreams.