GCDEL’s Digital Era Food for Thought feature is intended to stimulate people’s thinking and generate healthy discussion and debate about specific Digital Era realities, opportunities and challenges. The inaugural post focuses on the technology sector. It introduces several recent articles about the sector and its future and offers specific questions for readers to contemplate and share their perspectives on.
In the wake of Steve Jobs’ resignation as the CEO of Apple, there have been countless pieces reflecting on his contributions and speculating about the future of Apple, the technology sector, and digital innovation. There have also been other significant announcements from the technology sector - including Google’s proposed acquisition of Motorola and HP’s decision to “kill” its TouchPad tablet - that have important implications as well.
This post introduces a number of interesting essays and in-depth articles that have been written about the technology sector and its future in recent weeks. To stimulate people’s thinking and generate healthy discussion and debate, I also share several thought-provoking questions inspired by the pieces.
In Why Software is Eating the World, Marc Andreesen discusses his theory is that “we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.” After providing numerous examples to support his theory, he describes some of the opportunities for and challenges to future growth and expansion.
Google Goes Hardware Shopping can be viewed as offering a contrasting perspective, however. In discussing Google’s pending acquisition of Motorola, the article asserts that Google “recognizes that its prosperity will depend on mastering atoms as well as bits” and discusses how “the digital future… will be less a takeover of the physical world than a marriage with it.”
The importance of both hardware and software is reinforced in Four Titans of Tech are Racing to be King of Digital Age. Focusing on the competition among Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (oddly, Microsoft is excluded), it discusses how software-dominated firms are increasingly recognizing the strategic value of incorporating control over devices, which has been at the heart of Apple’s model.
In another piece that reflects on the impact of Apple on the technology sector, Sell Big or Die Fast discusses the impact of hypercompetitiveness on how long new products and services are kept on the market. After making huge investments in new offerings, many of the biggest players pull the plug on these offerings (e.g., Google Wave, HP’s TouchPad) if they’re not immediately successful and/or well received by the technorati.
No discussion of the technology sector would be complete without addressing start-ups. In Silicon Valley, the Night Is Still Young shifts the focus from the technology Goliaths to the Davids. It offers a nice complement to the previous pieces by addressing low barriers to entry, hypercompetitiveness and venture capital speculation among smaller players, as well as concerns about a tech bubble and the impact of the general economic malaise on start-ups.
Here are some of the questions that occurred to me as I read these pieces:
- Are we experiencing another tech bubble or are things truly different this time than they were 10 years ago?
- Should the speed of change and hypercompetitiveness in the technology sector be slowed down? Are we undermining the potential benefits of new products/services and their commercial potential by not giving them enough time to develop and mature?
- Do the technorati have too much power? Should their point of view – which is not necessarily reflective of digital rookies and later adopters – be allowed to dominate discussions and decisions?
- Is the increased blending of hardware and software –from both technology and business perspectives – a good thing? Will it result in the proliferation of “walled gardens” and reduce the openness which is at the heart of the internet?
Please feel free to share your thoughts on these questions or any other reflections you may have on these articles. You can comment directly via the blog or join the dialogue on LinkedIn. We also welcome links to other pieces focused on leadership opportunities and challenges in the technology sector.
- Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD
This is the first GCDEL “Digital Era Food for Thought” post. Click here to learn more about this feature. If you’d like to suggest topics and/or items for future DEFFT posts, and/or volunteer to create one yourself, please email DEFFT@gcdel.org. Thanks!
To receive a notice each time a new post is published, you can subscribe to the GCDEL Digital Era Thinkers Blog by clicking here or on the link on the upper left side of the website.