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As IDC sees it, tech's 'Third Platform' disrupts everyone

Bernard Golden | March 28, 2014
What IDC deems the third platform of computing -- social, mobile, cloud and big data -- is transforming IT much faster than the first (mainframe) or second (client/server) platforms ever did. This has tremendous implications for the IT industry, yes, but also for anyone doing business in today's world.

"Think of this as the long-anticipated period in which virtually each industry gets 'Amazoned' in its own way," IDC says. "These disruptions will manifest themselves as cannibalization of cash cows, slowed growth, squeezed margins and declining market share."

We have certainly seen the beginnings of this already: Uber disrupting the local taxi market, Airbnb restructuring the hotel market and Facebook's Whatsapp dislocating the telecommunications industry messaging market. According to IDC, these are just the hors d'oeuvre, served up before the banquet of transformation enabled by the third platform.

I agree wholeheartedly with this prediction. We're just now reaching the point that the power of the Internet, made exponential by the third platform, is taking hold in our society. Don't underestimate what this will bring. As incumbents realize how their core businesses are threatened by innovation, they will resist by every means possible. We'll see tremendous conflicts (as described in the Uber article above) in the market, in laws and government regulations, and even in formerly unthinkable alliances.

There will be a human cost as well. As industries and companies are disrupted, there will be mergers and bankruptcies, inevitably accompanied by layoffs and terminations. Innovation and disruption are dispassionate and intriguing concepts - except when they're happening to you, when they are pronounced "dislocation" and "disintegration." But IDC is spot-on in its assessment that the next decade will see tremendous change in every part of our economy.

I can't stress enough the importance of reading and considering this report. It isn't just an "inside IT" message. Every company is becoming a software company - and figuring out how each will integrate with the third platform is critical to its future.


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