Business strategists have for many years coined different versions of the phrase ‘change is the only constant’. But given the non-linear nature of technology development today, can we suggest that a future-ready enterprise is one that takes an even more redefined view of the terrain on the road ahead?
Nobel prize winning engineer Dennis Gabor famously said that, “The future can not be predicted, but futures can be invented.”
Is this post-millennial age, what do this really mean in a world where cloud, software-defined infrastructure, mobile and the Internet of Things appear to have the ability to reshape our core understanding of business economics?
The future, now, today
The answer is simple: the future needs to be a part of the current operational business plan, right now, today.
As IDC has succinctly stated, a ‘future-ready’ organisation is one that is always extending the abilities of its IT infrastructure and applications while also pursuing IT organisational practices that enable it to identify and address changing business and technology needs.
A post-millennial dawn
The crucial point that needs to be appreciated here is… if you thought we had been through a lot of change in terms of information technology over the last couple of decades… then the road ahead will travels at an even faster pace.
Why is this? Look at the facts. In the immediate future (i.e. start from tomorrow onwards) we are about to witness massive changes brought about by advancements that are usually classified as elements of the fourth industrial revolution.
If we accept that the first industrial revolution was mechanisation, the second industrial revolution was mass production and the third industrial revolution was automation & the PC era — then the fourth industrial revolution is now and it is the age of ‘robotisation’.
But it’s not just robots; we are in the midst of massive advances in nanotechnology, the Internet of Things, smart cities, 3D printing, biotechnology, quantum computing, autonomous vehicles, energy storage and so much more. Once again a new future-facing business has to now emerge to work with these new platforms. As IDC reminds us, “A future-ready organization has the IT infrastructure and organisational practices in place to both initiate change and adapt to outside disruptions.”
Are we over-playing things by suggesting that all these developments are about to start disrupting the business landscape? It would appear not… and there are a whole new breed of future-focused professionals trying to work out how we adapt business to the changing road ahead.
IDC’s Future Readiness category Profiles
Firms are even employing Chief Futurology Officers (CFOs), this stuff is actually happening. These CFOs are the so-called ‘future creators’ that IDC defines in its white paper linked here. IDC’s Future-Readiness Enterprise Study showed that the higher organisations move on the future-readiness scale within individual aspects and across multiple aspects, the better their business outcomes across a range of metrics.
In practical technology terms the shake up is extreme. Future-ready firms will have to shake off their own previous notions of linear business models. It will no longer be enough to build a product or service and take it to directly market in a straight line – instead, firms will need to embrace multi-channel multi-modal global delivery channels where product or services have to iterate and change far more rapidly then ever before.
Supporting this change will come down to a more flexible technology infrastructure. Open systems, open platforms and software-defined controls will be of paramount importance.
The fourth industrial revolution is a period of constant change and so firms in every vertical must now redefine themselves or face disruption that sees them ultimately go out of business. The future-ready era has begun.
Tags: Future Ready Enterprise