Information drives revolutions..
We are currently in a lull for the software industry with few new ideas and few successful companies emerging. This has been a topic of discussion recently, some of the blame has been on the economy, some on VC's reluctant to fund new companies. I do not believe either are the root cause. A down economy is a good time to start a company with a new business concept, entrepreneurs and VC's know this. It is all about timing, build the company in the downturn when resources are cheap and available, you are then positioned well to take advantage of the upswing.
The truth is that revolutions require new information flows, to be stimulate the revolution.Today we are moving around the same information and trying to manipulate it in new ideas. (This is part of the recent hangover, so much money was poured into the Internet that we pretty much exhausted most good and bad approaches). It is very hard to extract new value by moving around existing information and trying to create new value. Therefore when looking at new ideas the key metric should be does this release new information or combine existing information in an innovate manner.
What are the criteria that would indicate a technology is going to be transformational, rather than just another twist on an existing approach.When looking at a new idea, it is useful to run it against a few indicators that will help judge whether it will be revolutionary or just mediocre.
- Does the technology allow existing information to be collected and assembled in new ways at a lower price point?
- Are there new sources of information being created, or does the technology allow new information to be created easily?
- Are large amounts of unstructured information being moved into structured data and made accessible through new interfaces?
- Is there a new way of distributing the information that will empower a new group of information consumers?
- Does new information get delivered to audiences that were unable to receive it before at a price that is appropriate?
Well I think the barriers are caused by propriety information formats and the construction of isolated information silos that cannot interact with other sources of information. The problem still exists of asking the wrong question which is how do I integrate the information silos rather than how do I eliminate the information silos to enable easy access to information. Once information is easily accessible the ability to create/modify applications becomes dramatically simpler and the above indicators become active.
So what is the next thing....
I believe there are two potential revolutions either underway or the foundational pressures are being created to start the revolution:
- Connecting organizations across firewall boundaries, this satisfies the requirement for new relationships between existing data and in some cases I have seen this is moving unstructured data to structured, unleashing the ability to automate the decision making process
- Moving to loosely coupled structured data in the same way the web moved us to loosely coupled unstructured data