The Future of IT

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Brian Burnham is a smart guy. Read what he thinks about the future of IT business.

“This progression from hardware to systems software to applications software, to network, to service, and now to data has such a compelling momentum that leads inexorably to the question – What’s next?

One way to look at that question is to argue that we have arrived at the end of history. The progression to date has been up the stack in a classic architecture diagram, data is on top of that stack, and nothing sits on top of the data. I disagree.

The genius of Craigslist is in its governance system. It is its lightweight governance system that allows 21 people to administer 300 sites in 35 countries. I believe that the basis of competition in web services will shift from the data to the system that manages the acquisition, and use of that data. The governance system that yields the most utility for the largest number of users with the least overhead will ultimately manage the largest communities with the most valuable data.

Is there a basis for competition beyond the governance systems underlying these services? If pressed, I would guess it will be values. It might be possible for two equally effective governance systems to compete by internalizing different values. One could perhaps embrace openness and diversity at the cost of some efficiency and the other could be optimized for efficiency for a more homogeneous set of users and interests. After that maybe they will compete on aesthetics or maybe there is no more “stuff on top” as Nicolas Carr once said to me. Maybe then we really are talking about the end of IT history. What do you think?” via


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