The perfect storm

perfect-stormI started toying with the perfect storm idea and how it applies to our space, back at the end of 2013 when I was working on a time-honored exercise: predictions for the coming year (see this article in IT Briefcase: The Perfect Data Storm, Fueled by Big Data & Hybrid Cloud, Looms for 2014).

It takes a blockbuster movie to explain a scientific concept to the public (I’ll probably talk some day about Moneyball). But the meteorological phenomenon known as the perfect storm was revealed by the namesake movie featuring George Clooney. Then a Bostonian, I knew a thing or two about nor’easters, so the movie struck a cord.

Anyway, as Wikipedia tells us:

A “perfect storm” is an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically. The term is also used to describe an actual phenomenon that happens to occur in such a confluence, resulting in an event of unusual magnitude.

We are now past the perfect data storm I wrote about a year ago (just for fun, I’ll probably look back at some of my past predictions in a future post). We are entering a new perfect storm: the digitalization storm. The “circumstances” whose “combination” will “aggravate amplify” drastically this storm (I don’t like the negativity implied by the word “aggravate”) have been widely identified by industry analysts, although they slightly vary in their interpretation.

  • Data, whether you call it big data, just data, or information, enables use cases, analytics, granularity that were never thought possible before.
  • Social, which materializes in social media but also in networking, in peer-to-peer, in the sharing economy, defines a new mode of interaction and participation to the economy and society.
  • Mobile, which is not only about that smartphone in your pocket, but how IT is being componentized to respond to an ever-growing demand for customized features, increased agility and consistency across platforms.
  • Cloud, not only a technology enabler for the above trends but also an uber-agile and pervasive infrastructure and application platform.

Gartner calls it the Nexus of Forces. IDC the Third Platform. Since I have been to move Gartner conferences than IDC conferences, I am more familiar with the former, but I believe the two concepts are highly consistent.

And what about the Perfect Storm – the movie, with these “crazy Gloucester fishermen”? How did these trends play a role? I would say that Cloud was at the forefront of the story, just look at the movie poster. Seamen make use of Social technologies in the movie, even if these are primarily a VHF radio, which constitute the Mobile part as well. And Data… that would be the weather forecasts in this case, I guess.

A word of optimism to end this post. The movie does not have a happy ending. But, unlike a nor’easter, I think the digitalization storm brings a tremendous opportunity to businesses and society to create new wealth, to improve everyone’s life. But it’s only getting started.

Digitally yours,

(image credit: IMDB)

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