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

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

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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.

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