It is so Confusing!

by Dave Michels

There is a tremendous amount of shuffling going on and I am getting confused. I follow news and industry events pretty closely and understand why it’s all happening, but whoa! back up for a second and this is just nuts! 

The traditional voice folks are competing against email giants Microsoft and IBM, which in turn are competing against search giant Google. Cisco is competing against Dell and HP with servers while building its UC solution around hosted email. All of them have their eye on book reseller Amazon as premise is giving way to cloud which is giving way to virtualized premise. Enterprise IT is buying consumer devices for more power. Phones are becoming PCs and PCs are becoming tablets, and cell phones are becoming TVs, oh and headsets now detect presence. Skype concurrently competes against all of them and none of them. And Apple is kicking all of their butts. 

Here is the best part, it’s all dropping in price. Or is that the worse part?

The thing is, it isn’t just telephony or unified communications. There are few industries out there not going through similar disruption. Retail, healthcare, energy, broadcasting, publishing, transportation, automobiles, advertising  – it’s all up for grabs. The rate of innovation is insane.

Ten years ago doesn’t seem very long ago does it? Consider this: young Starbucks didn’t have wi-fi. Cell phones pretty much just did voice. Microsoft was offering Windows ME. The movie “You’ve Got Mail”, based on dialup AOL email and chat, was contemporary. Palm owned the PDA market and Apple was about to unveil its first (5 GB) iPod. My preferred search engine was Alta Vista. I was on a first name basis with my travel agent.

I understand technology marches on and things change. But this is absolutely insane. In a recent post, I used the phrase “the ever shortening half-life of knowledge”. A half life refers to the period of time it takes for a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half. Our knowledge is decaying fast as there is a new way of doing just about everything. The rate of innovation directly correlates to the rate of obsolescence, and both are pegged in the red zone. 

Continuous learning isn’t a model to strive for, it’s a matter of survival. On-the-job training and education used to be an event – banners and new coffee cups associated with a new release of software or new work flow process. Training was orchestrated, sometimes off-site maybe even involving travel. I remember doing corporate training sessions on a new voice mail system… not anymore. Corporations would be doing nothing but training if that model still existed. Instead we are throwing it out there insisting its intuitive.

Facebook, Twitter, new apps of all kinds, industry shifts, new competitors, new tools, new processes. Sink or swim baby. The training department is only concerned with major initiatives. The good news is various tools for learning are increasing – wiki’s, videos, blogs, YouTube, collaboration software, etc. But you are on your own with it.

Of course, it will be all different tomorrow.