Keeping Pace with Accelerating Technology

As new IT trends are penetrating into every corner of the firm, it is important to keep pace with innovations. ‘Everything as a service’ offerings and agile software development are the new technology trends to watch, according to a recent article from Harvard Business Review.
In the last decades, the pace of science and technology has greatly accelerated, which academics and journalists have called ‘innovation on steroids.’ Innovation initiatives that used to take months and massive funding to launch can now often be started in seconds for pennies. However, these game-changing technologies pair risk with opportunity for businesses today.
Furthermore, the acceleration of technology is producing more and more so-called disruptive innovations. In the past few decades, some of these disruptive innovations were, for example, telecommunications and the internet. A key element of such innovations is that they often start small. They begin at the low-margin, high commodity end of the stack, which often causes them to be overlooked. In time, however, the disruptive innovation will grow and has the potential to replace an entire industry.
Harvard Business Review has recently distinguished two disruptive technology trends that are forcing businesses to change.
One of the biggest accelerants of IT delivery is the rapid adoption of ‘everything as a service’ offerings. At the moment, this is an emerging trend mainly in areas such as software, web servers and SQL databases, but it may soon reach other areas as well. The traditional IT department, which required heavy investments in hardware, software and expertise, is making place for more flexible ‘pay-as-you-go, pay-as-you-need’ systems. This trend could eventually result in increased competition leading to quicker provisioning at better prices.
Agile software development, the iterative software development philosophy, has also continuously gained momentum in the last decade and is replacing the use of the traditional waterfall software development model. Agile development promotes flexibility, individual interaction, and focus on outputs and collaboration, instead of rigid planning-driven approaches. The question remains, however, as to whether the method can be successfully scaled.
It is also likely that ‘everything as a service’ and agile development methodologies are coevolving and driving each other’s adoption, and therefore intensifying disruptive innovation.
Businesses are facing a learning challenge in order to keep pace with these innovations. This is, in some ways, more difficult for IT than for individual employees and will require new IT learning, thinking and behaviour. IT professionals not only have to learn new skills, but they often have to unlearn old ones as well. Especially in evolving project management jobs, ingrained habits have to be abandoned in favour of more agile methods, in order to react more quickly and decisively to change and innovation.