Below is what I see happening in the world. I welcome your thoughts, arguments either via comments or twitter.
1. Software Driven disruption
Software increases efficiency in how you run your business. Logistics, planning etc. Plenty of examples exist. AirBnB does $900mm of revenue without massive staff or owning hotels. Uber is a $40+ B business disrupting transportation industry.
We are still in infancy of this disruption. Over next decade we will see more industries get shaken up by software driven startups. Domains such as Insurance, Banking, logistics, intelligence, transportation, manufacturing ( with the aid of 3D printing) will get disrupted. There is no safe industry that is not under threat from software driven startups.
2. Cloud unlocks productivity
Cloud adoption is by developers who saw the efficiency of using Cloud. The common characteristic of software startups that are driving innovation is leveraging Cloud technologies. Competing against a startup like AirBnB using mainframe or client server based systems like hospitality industry may try to do will be both funny and painful to watch.
3. Talent wars
Finding good software talent has become harder. There are already signs of talent shortage among software developers. I expect this to increase. Talented developers prefer working with Cloud technologies. This puts companies that are not adopting Cloud at a disadvantage in hiring talent, thus affecting their ability to compete.
4. Funding new innovation
I also expect funding for new innovation becomes easier for startups. Startups pursuing software driven disruption will get hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. What we are seeing with Uber, AirBnB, Zenefits etc is not hype, but it is beginning of a new normal. When you are trying to dominate a multi billion dollar industry, few hundred million dollars of funding is reasonable. While we may have few blips here and there, I do not expect this level of funding to stop anytime soon.
So, what does this mean if you are a CEO of a mainstream non software driven company?
Here are some ideas to try to get in front of upcoming disruption:
- Make IT central to everything you do. Everything.
- Evaluate your CIO to see if they have what it takes to pursue innovation. Replace them if you are not sure.
- Give the CIO a seat the exec table — they are the most important executive in your company after CEO.
- Scrap any new project that is using decades old technologies.
- Attend a conference like AWS:reInvent, Google Next or Microsoft Build yourself to see what is happening with Cloud. You have to become Cloud savvy.
- Hire an young smart programmer in their early 20s and make them your tech assistant. Let them be your bridge to fast changing technology world.
- Get a twitter account and follow tech discussions happening there