If you have been watching the development of many of the technology companies and think back to how they looked some 10-15 years ago, you will quickly realize they have stretched, deepened and risen above their traditional operating environment. For many years we have been able to clearly define what or who was a Hardware Vendor, a Software Provider, a Network Provider or even a Systems Integrator, but consider how we defined these previously and what they actually look like today.
We have hardware vendors becoming Software providers, we have Software providers developing their own Hardware, we have Network Providers becoming SI’s and SI’s trying to incorporate their own Hardware AND Software – basically everyone is increasingly competing with everyone else! We have always been able to clearly define the roles of each type of business in the communication and IT world, however boundaries are going from increasingly blurred to non-existent as each player feels increasingly confident that they not only have a right to offer a broader set of services but that they can be market leading for all of them. These traditional Boundaries are acting more as a funnel as vendors and providers are racing to be one of the newly defined solutions provider (End to end technology with end to end management), however there is always a problem when you have multiple objects accelerating toward each other, there WILL be a “Big Bang” in technology the likes of which we have not seen before.
I am aware that many people will claim that this is simply where the market is evolving to Hardware is becoming Software, Network Providers need to consult customers on how to integrate Hardware and software, and SI’s need to integrate multiple vendors and there need bridging technologies to ensure ownership for their customers. This is all true; although the faster these developments occur many businesses are at risk of either stretching beyond the business elasticity of their own organization or losing the identity of their organization altogether!
It is interesting to note that many businesses are confident that because they are recognized as a leader in their market that customers would buy a wider scope of services from them if they knew it was from their brand. In the beginning this will be the case – or to be precise is already visible, yet it is very difficult for a business to be able to replicate its know-how, thought leadership and processes into new areas which are fundamentally different from their own. Even today we see what I can only define as “Mega” Providers attempting to be a catch-all for customers who are struggling to see growth in all areas of their portfolio’s, they scratch their heads wondering what has gone wrong and who they should blame.
Yet think about conglomerates of the past where they acquired multiple organizations and did one of two things; kept the businesses to operate separately and only engage with each other in a similar way to supply chain management OR create a completely new way of working, processes and operating model which could be incorporated across all organizations. This seems to be the model which many businesses feel they can adopt and boldly go out of their way to demonstrate how they will evolve their organizations in the always reliable 12-18 month term. Both of the models used by traditional conglomerates require the strictest governance and can take years to establish and even longer to stabilize within the overall organization, for new technology businesses to believe this is simply replicable because they have hired one individual who worked in that environment is very short sighted.
I am curious as to how businesses seem to believe that just because they are great at delivering their core business products and services that they can expand their scope of services beyond the horizon. I remain eager to see technology businesses evolve in many ways but this should NEVER be to the detriment of their core business or even worse, forgetting what their core business actually was.
We are on the verge of an amazing collision of technology vendors, providers and integrators the outcome of which is as yet unknown but I assure you there will be few victors, many will realize the importance and sustainability of going to their core business and evolving that with the needs of the market, many others will become victims of acquisitions through reduced value through mismanagement or simply disappear as their cost model become unsustainable.
There is a positive note to all of this (finally I hear you say!), as to those who are familiar with the theory of the big bang there was new life, and likewise here I am sure we will see a whole set of new businesses emerge seeking to fill the gaps between the businesses that survive the aftermath of the Technology Big Bang. This will be a great opportunity for innovators who understand the growing need for interoperability, personalization and bridging technologies to provide ease of use to the customer.
Technology and the businesses associated with it have evolved and expanded so quickly that the upcoming Big bang will be a focus point for many an analyst and customer alike as we all seek to understand who are the likely winners and losers and who should we rely on to meet our technology needs in a sustainable way for the years to come. Technology Ecosystems may hold the key, looking for businesses that recognize their unique offering and identifying partners who can fulfill the necessary gaps and working together to provide customers with a common architecture, thus creating opportunities to cross sell and up sell their products and services.
The current direction of hardware and software vendors, network and service providers, integrators and consulting businesses WILL result in a head on collision from multiple angles the outcome of which remains exciting yet unknown. Therefore I say Bring on the Next Big bang and let’s see what the change will bring us!