One of the team reminded me the other day that 6YS turned 15 years old this year and asked whether we were going to do something special. I have never been one for large celebrations for birthdays personally or otherwise (I am for my children). But what this seemingly innocuous statement triggered was a whole lot of reflection that has occupied the late hours of my nights thinking back over the last 15 years.
In the technology sphere, we spend most of our time looking forward. We are always on the lookout for the next trend (or threat). That is how we started 6YS, so it was interesting to take a deep breath and look back.
Having already stolen some of my sleep in time spent reflecting, I wanted to share some of the journey the marketplace and ourselves have been on over the past 15 years. Over the next few months we will get each of the key team at 6YS to write about their experience over that same time.
What has really changed in technology?
The pace of change in the last few years has accelerated. Change is one of the most exciting things about being in the tech sector as it just never stops. What is most interesting is when you move beyond all the buzzword bullshit, you realise that while the latest fad, processor, device etc has changed - little else has really emerged from the last 15 years that is truly groundbreaking. It is just the maturity of the tech and its distribution that has come ahead leaps and bounds.
My list of the truly mammoth changes is small - Virtualisation is number 1 and the introduction of the smartphone is number 2.
Up until Apple released the iphone - IT was the realm of the IT department. The iphone really marked the consumerisation of IT in the corporate environment - before that if you had email on your phone it was generally a work device such as a blackberry which was controlled by IT.
The smartphone triggered BYOD and also triggered a change in that everyone wanted a decision in the IT process. Over time that decision has moved beyond IT and now every department wants their own app / platform / environment. They no longer listen to IT departments. This was the pivotal move that brought the user to the forefront of the decision and IT were shoved into the background.
Before virtualisation the equation was one server = one workload. Hardware was the driving factor for most IT decisions or limiting factor depending on how you look at it. Virtualisation enabled the cloud and enabled a whole range of website, apps and other virtual software.
Without virtualisation there would be no cloud, or at least not the hyperscale version that is what the general public call the cloud today.
And what have most companies failed to address?
Two things: Control and Security. If you have been around long enough in IT you would remember how much more control you were able to exert over IT infrastructure. You could control what software or platform was used and you managed a handful (at most) types of devices. Sure there were still viruses, worms, etc but we had much greater control.
Now the degree of control is in the hands of the users in many cases and access to private data is more accessible than at any other time in history. Most organisations are in a far weaker position today than they were 15 years ago and much more vulnerable to technology threats than ever before despite greater than ever investment in security. Why?
Many users are still using post it notes to remember passwords or using weak passwords. They are using the same password for network access as the staff rewards portal that HR insisted was secure (when we know it is not).
The proliferation of technology has made it impossible for many internal IT teams to even be close enough to most of the options out there - let alone management consultancies dressed up as security experts.
There is a real problem coming for many organisations but it is one that I know can be addressed through working with the right partners, experts and vendors. If you would like to know some IT partners to talk to, feel free to be in touch.