This week I participated in the CIO Bootcamp at Interop.
Before getting up to speak, I couldn’t help but notice that nearly everyone in the room had a mobile device of some kind and were using it during breaks (actual or imagined) to check their e-mail. Some would say that the Mobility Revolution is at hand. We all know that mobility is a requirement for our lives and our jobs and if you don’t have a mobile phone and mobile e-mail, then obviously you are behind the times.
So, here’s my analogy…
Think back to 1994. This was before the Netscape IPO. It was before AT&T had introduced flat-rate dialup Internet. It was before Windows 95 bundled an IP stack and Internet Explorer into the operating system. In 1994, it was unusual to have an e-mail address on your business card. If you did, you clearly were an early adopter of the Internet.
Now, fast forward to December 1995. All the things I mentioned above had now happened. By December 1995, everyone knew they had to be on the Internet. If you DIDN’T have your e-mail address on your card you were clearly a technology laggard.
But… Had the Internet Revolution really happened?
From a consumer perspective, realize that Yahoo was only incorporated in April 1995. Amazon didn’t even come into existence until July 1995. eBay launched Labor Day weekend in 1995. The Google guys didn’t develop BackRub until 1996. So, we were all still just beginning to get a glimpse of how the Internet would change our lives.
On the business side, things lagged significantly. As one indication, IBM didn’t launch their eBusiness campaign until 1997. Over the years, this campaign did a good job of introducing, in a credible way, how businesses could leverage the Internet and IP-based technologies to revolutionize how they operate their companies and how they compete in the marketplace.
To provide perspective, I started my talk this week by asking what would happen if the IT executives in the room took out all the PCs in their business. Could they figure out a way to still operate the business? Probably not. There’s no way to go back to a pre-PC world. What would happen if they took all the IP networks and the Internet out of their business. Could they come up with a fall-back plan to keep the company going? I seriously doubt it. The Internet Revolution has happened and has radically changed everything about how we do business.
What about mobile devices. If they all went away, most companies in most of their operations could figure out how to get by. Sure, we’d be miserable, but we’d survive. It’s December 1995 transformed into the mobile world. We know mobility is important, but it isn’t yet fully integrated into how we do business.
But it will be.