Plan for obsolescence


The history of communications technology is lousy with conflicts born of innovation and advancement and characterized by resistance and grudging acceptance. The evolution of mobile networks from analog to digital comes prominently to mind, with all of its dividing lines between technology camps and device wars, as does the ever-advancing encroachment of wireless technologies and devices into traditional wireline territories. These so-called improvements naturally bring both competitive conflict and, at times, user uproar.

It's not surprising, really. Technology is ever-evolving and the business surrounding it is competitive, so it should come as no great shock that the groups with hot new ideas and interpretations will push to replace the platforms of their predecessors with products they believe to be superior models. Combine that with the tendency of many technology users to resist change--an oft-justified sentiment fueled by seemingly constant upgrades and improvements--and you have one big hotbed of innovation and market and side-taking and squabbling.

That sometimes-messy scenario is where the enterprise cloud sector is right now: technologists are taking sides and touting improvements, and enterprise IT professionals are trying to figure it all out--even as they try to keep the employees in their companies happy and connected. And in their virtually non-existent spare time, those IT pros are carefully studying this whole cloud phenomenon to see just how it might put them out of a job.

At least that's a concern brought to light by a recent blog post on The Wall Street Journal. The piece points out that enterprise CIOs often can be responsible for slowing the adoption of cloud platforms, partly due to concerns that an increasing reliance on the automation of the cloud could reduce the need for--well, them.

It's a fascinating and relevant point, but one that really shouldn't be a concern of organizations that have selected confident, technologically progressive CIOs and other IT staff. People working in the IT career category are technology champions by nature--they may be pragmatic about thorough about the progression to new formats and platforms, but they should be. That's what they're there for: to ensure that the organizations they represent get the best most productivity and cost effectiveness from technology. They may question and explore and examine and evaluate, but ultimately they are there to promote rather than block progress.

That's precisely where the enterprise sector is right now with regard to cloud-based platforms and solutions--in a phase of exploration and examination. New approaches are rapidly developed and put forth, and IT professionals are challenged to make decisions that will maximize the benefits for their organizations.

Will there be obsolescence? Absolutely--but it will be those ever-evolving technologies, many of which are now new, that ultimately become obsolete, not the people in charge of making the decisions to deploy them in their organizations. If anything, the roles of enterprise IT professionals become even more critical as technology becomes more complex and the staffs of their companies look to their expertise to tell them what will work and what won't.

With technology progressing as rapidly as ever, those IT pros need to be around to take the right side in the next fight. --Jason Meyers

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