Vision is one of the characteristics of man that makes us unique from all other life. Vision requires imagination. Vision alone is exciting and interesting, but it may not drive success in business or in technology. Vision must be appropriately applied to the physical world through experience, methodologies, and processes. Big data, mobile computing, social networking, and e-content are all transformational technologies, and many leaders are beginning to form solid visions around the practical application of each of these technologies to create new markets, grow existing markets, and transform existing markets. In the past forty years or more of information technology, we have seen one transformational technology after the other form, mature and evolve, but for the most part each of these technologies had a fairly large window where it was the one and only, unique technology transformation going on. For the first time we have at least four major technology transformations going on in parallel. Big data, mobile computing, e-content and social networking are all arriving on the scene at the same time, and they will mature and evolve to have similar effects on the world as the mainframe computer, the personal computer and the Internet. But the fact that four major technology transformations are happening in parallel creates at least a fifth, if not sixth and seventh technology transformation as well. The combination of these four technologies together creates transformations that are not possible with just one technology, and therefore I am confident that when we look back in ten years, we will recognize that the world of IT went through a bigger transformation during this decade by at least an order of magnitude than any previous transformation.

What does this mean to businesses today? I think it means that now is the time to put a strategic plan in place to create growth never before possible. Companies like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco and others have a unique opportunity now to create a new vision for the future of their company and to see that vision become a reality over the next ten years. Companies can easily become complacent, satisfied with the growth and profits they currently generate, and let other new companies pop onto the scene and become the next Microsoft or the next Google. However, with their size and expertise those same mature companies with the right vision, strategy and plan actually have huge advantages to see that explosive growth happen from within their own corporate structure. Take for example publishing. The publishing industry has been around a lot longer than information technology, and it has been a hugely profitable marketplace creating huge corporations and countless millionaires and billionaires. However, it is currently going through declining growth, and thus it may see a new publishing market created that will far exceed the current market. To remain relevant the publishing industry must aggressively embrace e-content or watch Amazon and others become the future of publishing. IBM once dominated the information technology world with seventy percent worldwide market share and now looks across the country to see Apple with a higher market cap, and Microsoft and Google with more users.

It is easy, and in many ways it may seem safe and advantageous, for large companies to stay the course. Mature companies generally focus on core business and let startups take the risks of new transformational technologies; but we live in a different IT world today where size does matter, and thus the real advantage is not with the startup but with the visionary corporations. Many say that size alone creates so much noise, so much distraction, so much operational weight that corporate giants simply cannot have vision, but I believe that these new transformational technologies – big data, e-content, mobile computing, cloud computing, and social networking – together create some unique opportunities that only a large, profitable corporation can effectively implement and monetize!

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