What the collapse of the newspaper industry can teach IT
We've all seen what internet disruption has done to newspaper industry. Newspapers clearly failed to react to the changes going on around them, and the result has not been pretty. As an IT pro watching a similarly seismic shift going on in your department, you would be wise to use newspapers as a lesson.
Just how bad has it gotten for newspapers? According to recent Pew study, newspaper readership has been cut in half since 2000, when 47 percent of people surveyed had read a newspaper the day before. In the most recent survey, it was just 23 percent. And it's not just newspapers. Daily magazine readership has dropped from 26 percent to 18 percent in the same timeframe. It's fair to say that whatever your industry, it's not a trend you would like to see.
Reaction to disruption usually starts with disbelief, which typically manifests itself in belittling the disruptive influence. Newspapers didn't take the Web or Craigslist seriously, and later they failed to grasp just how important Google would become. For the most part, they never seemed to even try to understand the newer technologies, often blaming Google, for instance, for "stealing" their content, and have failed completely to take advantage of these changes to advance their business.
You'll often see a similar dynamic at play when you talk to some IT pros about the cloud, mobile and social.They will scoff at these technologies as consumer-grade. They will complain about security and lack of control. They will roll their eyes and tell you how they've seen all this before -- even though they haven't, at least not on this level.
The fact is that change is bubbling all around IT these days as consumerization sweeps over the enterprise, leaving IT pros with a clear choice. They can embrace the change and figure out how to make mobile, social and the cloud work for them, or they can get left in the dustbin with the newspaper pros who refused to see the change going on around them.
The thing is that newspapers had a long time to deal with their disruption, and still failed to react until long after the disruption had swept them aside. IT doesn't even have the luxury of time. The change is relentlessly marching through the enterprise, and if you fail to act, you are putting your company at risk. You need to understand that the balance of power has shifted and you are there to serve the needs of business, not the other way around.
Lest you think think this is pure hyperbole, the fact is that companies are being overrun by complexity -- and traditional enterprise applications with their multi-year upgrade cycles can't keep up with cloud-based ones that update regularly behind the scenes without disrupting your users. What's more, as the sheer amount of information grows across the enterprise, you can't build enough data centers to keep up with it all. There is no way to deal with this mushrooming amount of data without going to the cloud where you can scale to whatever heights your business requires -- and only pay for what for you use.
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