Invisible IT

January 15, 2008

January 15 2008

Technical Industry visionary Nicholas Carr has an article referencing several other posts, plus his new book predicting that 2008 is the year that Software as a service has its break out year.

Full disclosure, I have been a fan of Mr. Carr’s since his publication of “IT Doesn’t Matter” in the May 2003 Harvard Business Review. (subscription required)

The concept is simple, just as we plug an extension cord into the wall to get electricity, the time is coming were we just plug something into the wall and get computing resources. It may be a subscription to that particular financial program you need, or data storage for those marketing brochures.

NASA Vs. The Automobile

Even as a “tech guy” I have believed in this concept for years. My epiphany came 12 or 15 years ago when an automotive industry trade magazine (I don’t remember which one to give it credit) mentioned that every automobile manufactured in North America since about 1980 had more computer processing power than the NASA moon shots. I found that fundamentally amazing. Made me realize how “seat of the pants” those flights were!

At the same time, I realized that no one buys an automobile because of the computer processing power installed in it, modern cars can have dozens of “computer chips” choreographing everything from engine management to antilock brakes. We purchase automobiles that meet some set of needs that we, as individuals have. These reasons could be design, features, our life style, or price. The computer technology available in the automotive world can definitely enable and enhance many of the features that make us choose a particular automobile. But unless you are an engineer in the auto industry,(OK maybe that was a bad joke) I don’t think any of us purchase a particular make or model of vehicle because it has a certain number of computer circuits installed in it.

Two lawyers walk into a bar, first lawyer says; “I just bought a new car! 35 integrated computer chips .. beat that!”

X-Box Wins – For Now

We are already seeing many pieces of this invisible IT network utility structure. For example, my son is a Microsoft X-Box live fan. He takes it for granted that he can fire up the machine, it connects to the Internet in seconds and he is blowing up aliens while instantly talking on headphones to the contacts on his friend list. That list includes someone half way around the world. As an IT manager – I wish I could do that today with voice and video communications! My organization has staff spread across Canada, to get the same funcionality that he does with the X-Box, I have to set up a web based meeting tool and then setup (and pay for) a phone conference with an 800 number for the remote team to call. In the time it takes me to do this – my son and his buddy list have reached level 5 of whichever game they are playing. Can we say “collaboration”?

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One Response to “Invisible IT”


  1. […] you have read Nicholas Carr’s IT Doesn’t Matter you will notice one key difference, I never saw it as the world of software that we currently […]


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