Strategy & Operations » Leadership & Management » IT STRATEGY REVIEW.


The pace of change in technology is endlessly fascinating but, in itself, isn't exactly news. The world has moved on considerably from the days almost half a century ago when the then-president of IBM, Thomas Watson, forecast that total world demand for computers would be about two or three dozen. Today, of course, more than 100 million people use machines very like the ones that came off IBM's assembly lines in 1981 - and there are forecasts that more than one billion people will be using information technology before the next millennium is five years old.

But there is one element of the pace of change that cannot be overlooked. Most of the developments in IT in the 1980s and 1990s have involved exponential progression in speed, storage capacity, data-crunching ability and, of course, cost-efficiency – put crudely, doing more of the same for less money. Now consider this: not a single newspaper or magazine article contained in the Reuters Business Briefing database for 1993 contains the now-ubiquitous letters, “http” – the prefix for website addresses. This fact alone highlights not only the huge pace of change in the last five years, but – much more importantly – reveals how information technology is now being used to do things differently – and to do different things. This is the ultimate challenge that 21st century IT presents to us.

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