SoftLayer, an IBM company, @ TheNextWeb 2014: Masters of Failure and Change

SoftLayer Logo

Written by Michalina Kiera, Senior Marketing Manager EMEA at SoftLayer, an IBM Company


Michalina Kiera, Senior Marketing Manager EMEA at SoftLayer, an IBM Company

If you stand still, you go backwards. We’ve all heard that at least once and a lot of us claim to live by that rule. But do we really? How often does the risk of challenging the status quo hinder our decisions and paralyze our actions? How many times, especially in large business scale, do we fall into the spiral of establishing stable position and then waiting for what happens next, assessing the risk of readjustments with the help of all great charts, impressive graphs and slides full of powerful numbers and bullet points, and then waiting again, without applying any of the “to dos” with the fear that the uncharted territory will bring more pain than gain? We call it “playing safe”, but is it not the opposite?

Already 2500 years ago Heraclitus knew that the only constant is change. Let’s go further and admit that the alternative is not stability, it is stagnation and deterioration. The story of humanity from any angle, may it be social, political, economic, or technology, is the story of change. 

In the last couple of years, we’ve observed an enormous shift in how businesses think and operate. In the past, if an organization wanted to bring something new to the market, or just make iteration to the existing offering, it involved a lot of resources, from time, to people, to supporting infrastructure. Most of the ideas were left on paper, lucky if they got to the white board level. Only a handful, after cumbersome fight with processes, budget restrictions, people and their egos, got to see the daylight. Even less survived the market trial, while something much better prospecting was most likely collecting the proverbial dust. Change was a luxury that only a few dared to afford without risking their jobs. 

Oh how the times have changed. This is especially visible at conferences such as The Next Web which took place last week in Amsterdam. We are living in the age of creators whose reign is possible thanks to the raise of cloud, mobile, social and big data. Out of those four I dare to say that the cloud is the engine fueling the growth of the other three. The possibility of deploying infrastructure on demand without long term commitments, anywhere in the world, and with an option to scale it up and down on the fly, significantly decreased the fear of failure. Because interestingly enough, people are not risk averse, they are loss averse. So lately, actually failing fast and moving on has become a business model for those most progressive. Failure is a success if it brings you closer to reaching your goal. The time to market has shortened. Within months the ideas can be transformed into prototypes ready for trial in real world as opposite to guestimation-based lab environment. Armed with the power of on-demand services, organizations can embrace the change on a daily basis, with no fear of fiasco-stigma and without putting innovation on hold. 

The other thrilling phenomena is that nowadays the creators are people who use to be in the shadow, mainly taking instructions from the “management” and spinning the hamster wheel they were put it. The greatest change is seeing developers, the ‘IT crowd’, who no longer sit in the basements of their offices, lead this new technology revolution. They are the ones disrupting the economies and remodeling the markets they operate within and serve. They create new revenue strings, becoming driving forces within their organizations or rolling out their own businesses as startup founders. There is a whole new breed of technology entrepreneurs thriving on what cloud offers them. 

So what comes next? Because we know there is a “next”, that’s for certain. My prediction is that now it’s time for evolution, moving from a sandbox stage to proficiency, from playing around with building another mobile app pop star that will be like Pinterest just for cats, and after months of humongous success will disappear from the web forever. The bubble is close to bursting and the APPocalypse has already begun. How many apps that allow you to join a network of people that like strawberry jam can there be?   The future belongs to those who will embrace the technology at advanced level. It will be no longer about any innovation, but about bringing meaningful change and building value at industrial scale. Smart cities, connected devices, internet of things, cognitive computing – all results of daring experiments, bold decisions and not dreading the stumbles and falls that will come. This transition will rely on powerful compute and network resources, a cloud that will be ready for heavy-duty workloads. We’re not talking virtual instances only anymore, but deployable on the go bare metal servers that guarantee most optimum I/O speed of the disks and network, that don’t split storage, RAM and CPU between multiple tenants. With such volume of data that needs to be collected and processed real-time there will be no space for compromise. 

Now more than ever success cannot come from organizations and people that stand still. This is a truly propitious time to try, fail fast, learn and ultimately succeed. As long as the builders of tomorrow will be smart about their focus, choice of partners and technology they decide to depend, the world is their oyster. Markets change, methods change, so to stay ahead of the curve, you must change before you have to. And the great news is: you can. 

About the Author

Michalina is responsible for IBM SoftLayer’s marketing in the EMEA region. For close to a decade, she has worked with a whole spectrum of businesses, from corporate tycoons to startup founders. She has been part of the market’s transition from traditional IT model to empowered 3rd platform of Cloud, Big Data and Mobile. Michalina is International Relationships MsC and International Strategic Marketing & Export Management graduate.





Featured Stings

From left to right: Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, greets cheerfully in the conference room Angela Merkel, German Federal Chancellor and Francois Hollande, President of France. (Council of the European Union photographic library, 22/05/2013).

EU leaders slammed on anti-tax evasion inaction and expensive energy

Five years down the drain

European Parliament. Monetary dialogue with the president of the European Central Bank. On the left Sharon Bowles (ALDE, UK) chair of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and President of the ECB Mario Draghi. (EP Audiovisual Services).

Berlin cannot dictate anymore the terms for the enactment of the European Banking Union

Press conference by Olli Rehn, Vice-President of the European Commission, on the autumn economic forecasts for 2013-2015. (EC Audiovisual Services, 5/6/2013).

Commission Vice-President Rehn exaggerates Eurozone’s growth prospects

A hearing at the European Court of Justice (European Court of Justice, 2010)

EU Court of Justice invalidates Safe Harbour and the game for thousands US businesses suddenly changes

IMF head Christine Lagarde speaking in Manila

Lagarde’s metamorphoses, not a laughing matter

Meet the Junior Enterprise network at JEWC 2014!

European Parliament. Plenary session, week 9, 2014 in Strasbourg. Discussion and vote of amendments on insurance mediation. Commissioner Michel Barnier in charge of Internal Market and Services, has the floor. (EP Audiovisual Services, 26/2/2014).

How can consumers be effectively protected from insurance sellers?

Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Industry and Entrepreneurship, travelled to Athens, where he attended the conference organised by the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE). (EC Audio Visual Services).

Tourism offers much to the EU gets a little

Angela Merkel, German Federal Chancellor, on the left, and Nicos Anastasiades Cypriot President. (EC Audiovisual Services).

The Eurogroup has set Cyprus on fire

Press conference of Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission, after the 3rd meeting of the High Level Expert Group on Key Enabling Technologies. (EC Audiovisual Services, 29/01/2014).

Industrial products: Lifting the last impediments in the EU single market

José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, on the right and Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council. Final Press Conference after the European Council Summit of 14.12.2012. (Photographic library of the Council of the European Union).

3+1 issues to haunt tomorrow’s EU Summit

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, and several Members of the College of the EC participated in the EP plenary session which focused on the presentation of the creation of a new EU strategic investment plan. He looks here too confident. Will he make the ship turn? (EC Audiovisual Services (26/11/2014)

Presentation of Juncker’s Investment Plan: Can 315 billion euros save the EU?

Nominee for the European Inventor Award Category Research: Christine van Broeckhoven, Belgium, Vlaams Interuniversitair Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB) for her invention: Contributions to neuropathological medicine (on the left). The European Inventor Award, launched by the EPO and EC's DG Enterprise and Industry in 2006, gives inventors the recognition they deserve. And, like every competition, it is an incentive to all other potential winners. It protects ideas and encourages innovation.

Is there a drug for every disease?

Novartis-Logo (1)

Novartis and Johnson & Johnson to deprive Europeans of their right to Health

Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice (on the left) and Felix Braz, Minister of Justice of Luxembourg holding a Press conference after the Justice and Home Affairs EU Council meeting on 8-9 October in Luxembourg. The former represents the will of the Brussels Commission and the latter holds the rotating Presidency of this Council, authentically representing the 28 EU governments. (European Council – Council of the European Union, 09/10/2015).

The UN supports Europe’s military action in Libya and the Mediterranean; Russia and China agree

Ignacio Garcia Bercero and Dan Mullaney

The eighth round of TTIP negotiations concludes in Brussels amid scepticism and new fears

Education and Training: where do we stand in 2014?

European Parliament. EU - Switzerland Interparliamentary meeting in Brussels. (EP Audiovisual Services, 23/04/2013).

The Swiss will pay dearly for voting out fellow Europeans

In December 2013, Cecilia Malmström, the then Member of the European Commission in charge of Home Affairs (second from left) visited Turkey. (in the 1st row, from left to right) Ahmet Davutoğlu, the then Turkish Foreign Minister, Malmström, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the then Turkish Prime Minister, Bekir Bozdağ, the then Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, Egemen Bağış, the then Turkish Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator for Turkey's accession negotiations with the EU, and Zafer Çağlayan, the then Turkish Minister for Economy. Seeing it in retrospect Malmström’s advice to respect media freedom, free expression and judicial independence didn't pay any dividends. Erdogan had it its own way. (EU Commission Audiovisual Services, 16/12/2013, Location: Ankara – Parliament).

The West – the EU and the US – is writing off Turkey’s Erdogan

Commissioner Corina Cretu, responsible for Regional Policy (European Commission)

A Sting Exclusive: “Regional Policy: a fully-fledged investment policy”, Commissioner Cretu reveals live from European Business Summit 2015

European Parliament, Brussels. Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) meeting - 4th NSA inquiry hearing. (EP Audiovisual Services, 30/09/2013).

Parliament to ask for the suspension of EU-US deal on bank data

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC (on the left) went to Washington, where she met with the NATO Supreme Allied commander. The Vice-President then participated in the 4th Annual Symposium on the EU's Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP). Mogherini then met with John Kerry, US Secretary of State (on the right). (EC Audiovisual Services, 29/04/2015, location: Washington - State Department).

EU’s core members are eyeing larger parts of arms trade and of world map

European Parliament. Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) meeting. Vote on the bank single resolution mechanism and fund. (EP Audiovisual Services).

The completion of the European Banking Union attracts billions of new capital for Eurozone banks

Press confeence by Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the European Commission in charge of Taxation, Customs, Statistics, Audit and Anti-Fraud on the adoption by the EC of a proposal to amend the Parent-Subsidiary Directive. (EC Audiovisual Services 25/11/2013).

The Commission unsuccessfully pretends to want curbing of tax evasion

Press conference by Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the European Commission, on the launch of the consultation on the new state aid rules, (EC Audiovisual Services).

ECB is about to lend trillions to banks

Mario DRAGHI, President of the European Central Bank, participated in the Eurogroup of 24.3.2013. Olli Rehn, Vice President of the European Commission is seen in the background (on the right). Council of the European Union Photographic Library).

Eurozone bank rescues ‘a la carte’ until 2015 then only bail-ins

José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, received John Kerry, US Secretary of State. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Counting spillovers from the fast track EU-US free trade agreement

Press conference by Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the EC in charge of Competition on cartel decisions. Almunia shows with both his hands how he fought the beasts of cartel. (EC Audiovisual Services, 4/12/2013).

Commission offers discount on fines to banks for competition infringements

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, went to Berlin, where he participated in the 17th Tourism Summit (Tourismusgipfel). In his speech, the President reminded of the mutually beneficial effects of tourism and European integration, and underlined in particular the importance of the four freedoms of the Single Market for a flourishing tourism sector. (EC Audiovisual Services, 2/12/2013).

EU tourism industry expects a new record year in 2014

Opening of the "European Space Expo" in London by Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission. There he pronounced a speech entitled "European Space Solutions". (EC Audiovisual

Is Eurozone heading for disinflation?


Qualcomm to be the next target of EU antitrust regulators? China might be the answer

Civil Society Day 2013 at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels (EESC photographic library 6-3-2013).

EU decides “in absentia” of civil society

Youth Forum calls on Parliament to ease entry into Europe for young people

ECOFIN Council, Luxembourg, 21/6/2013. (From left to right), Jeroen Dijsselbloem President of the Eurogroup, Anders Borg, Swedish Minister for Finance, Pierre Moscovici, French Minister of Finance. (Council of the European Union photographic library).

The Banking Union divides deeply the European Union

More Stings?


  1. I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s