Each time a new IT industry term comes along – World Wide Web, cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT) – it marks a new period in the Digital Transformation game. But have you learned how to navigate this ever-changing playing field?

Sometimes you need to look back to get ahead.

First Half of the Game    

Rewind to 1994 and proceed to about 2003. The Digital Transformation game started around the time that Tim Berners-Lee finally left CERN to start W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium).

At the time, Digital Transformation was a matter of business process redesign, reengineering and improvement (BPR/I). We were all focused on the PC, browser and office suite wars. We dove into e-mail, Web search, e-commerce and e-business.

On a high level, some folks look back at those times and really don’t care about those milestones. But all that infrastructure set the stage for Digital Transformation’s next era.

Second Half of the Game

By 2004 or so, we saw Web 2.0’s emergence. The Digital Transformation game roughened. Enthusiasm and skepticism often clashed, but eventually Digital Transformation convincingly scored with the notion and practice of Social Business.

From 2004 on, developments accelerated in Olympic 4-year periods as we know.

So where do we go from here? You’ve already read dozens of “2015 IT predictions.” But let’s look ahead to 2016, when the cloud is bound to become truly silver-lined. Indeed, most IT spends will be in leased computing assets. And finally, an Internet of Things (IoT)  or Everything (IoE) is scheduled to be up and running by 2020. And it will potentially impact every consumer and industry.

Game Over?       

What does all that mean – for data managers right now?

We’re 20 years into the Digital Transformation game. The five SMACT forces (social, mobile, analytics, cloud, technology) are predictable enough to have a lasting impact on the economy and on our lifestyle.

Does that mean the Grand Digital Transformation game is over? Far from that! New milestones and developments constantly alter the SMACT landscape. One example is the infinitely bigger IPv6 address space, loosely defined by the TCP/IP Guide:

“Consider the IPv6 address space a huge box and the IPv4 address space a tiny one. Let the latter be a 1.6-inch square, then IPv6 would equal a square the size of our solar system.”

IoT: Revolution Along Evolutionary Lines

WOW, this perfectly applies to our SMACT understanding of Cloud & Things. But – tiny detail – we are talking here of Internet instead of Web. Semantic as it may seem, that’s a crucial observation. To me, the Web is something utterly coherent, well-architected and functionally planned, whereas the Internet is just empty space! The size of our solar system, and then? What or who would live there? What purpose would it serve, et cetera?

To make my point, I once again repeat the last three mottos that Royal Dutch Philips chose to mark its mission: Let’s Make Things Better; Sense and Simplicity; Innovation and You. Together those could result in a true Triumph of Technology, the phrase that Philips used for decades during the 20th Century to position itself.

It would mean a revolutionary IoT – but along evolutionary lines. In other words, we may gain Innovation of Technology along evolutionary lines, namely Entia Non Sunt Multiplicanda Praeter Necessitatem plus Simplex Sigilum Veri plus Homo Mensura.

Hello World!

Essentially, the all-encompassing Internet of Things/Everything vision is firmly rooted in philosophy, whereas technology should be understood as the cross-pollination of old-Greek techne and episteme. Just look at some central “Hello World!” observations, Ludwig Wittgenstein made in his Tractatus, which was published almost a century ago now, and marked a reboot of modern thought:

1          The world is everything that is the case.      
1.1       The world is the totality of facts, not of things.       
2          A logical picture of facts is a thought.          
3          A thought is a proposition with a sense.

Everything old is new again. IoT is real. But I prefer to call it the Innovation of Technology. Now you know why.

Jaap Bloem (@BLO2M) is principal analyst at VINT, the Sogeti trend lab -- a wholly-owned subsidiary of Capgemini.

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