A few days ago Scott Hanselman tweeted a link to a Microsoft marketing ad promoting what productivity could look like in 5 to 10 years. Scott asked whether this was truly 5 or 10 years out or more like 15 to 20.
The responses were varied but most people focused specifically on the gadgetry. We are so typically fascinated and speculative about new toys these days.
My first thought was all of this was entirely possible right now. Perhaps some of the gadgets do not exist yet but certainly most do. All that is remaining is the 1s and 0s, that is to say the Software has not yet been fully engineered. My response would have been "this is available right now", and then I would have endured many responses to how wrong I was.
Truthfully I am wrong, just because something is possible to build doesn't mean its arrival is imminent...and in some cases even likely. So what is it that's keeping engaging and valuable tech from becoming a reality...money. More specifically it is who controls the money.
Imagine what it is like to be the Director of IT, IS, or CTO of a mid to large sized company. When your company has nothing to do with technology it can be hard to imagine spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on innovative technology solutions, To complicate matters even worse as Director you are held responsible when technology goes bad, regardless of how old or new the technology is.
I am beginning to see the problem we need to solve before we arrive at "the future" is the risk. The technology is possible but the cost and "business as usual" mantra are the enemies. This is why a vision for innovation is critical. A vision for innovation is more than goal-setting or bringing your company current with technology. Rather, a vision for innovation is setting a clear expectation of how your company or your industry will change forever with the aide of technology. Image what your job could be like if the power of technology was well designed and delivered to you and your company? What if you strip off any boxed thinking and really allowed yourself to dream of what you could do? The future really is that bright but we need visionaries. With a vision you can win people over. With a vision you can endure setbacks while maintaining forward motion. With a vision you can compare the cost of building these solutions while projecting what it will make you in sales or save you in efficiency. With a vision you can move forward, without one you will stay dependent on whatever the current status-quo is.
I wish I met more Directors or CTOs that could look past the cost. I know that sounds obvious, but I am really saying that I wish I met more people that were as excited about the possibilities of technology as I am. Look past the risk and become a visionary. Then maybe the Microsoft vision is less than 5 to 10 years out.