On Tornadoes, and why IT Folks will Remain Rockstars


Have you ever wondered why innovation in the technology sector seems to be never-ending? How do companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google manage to consistently come up with newer and more innovative versions of their products and services each year? Well, a big part of it is due to Moore’s Law, which states that “The number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years”. This means that the capabilities of many digital electronic devices like processing speed, memory capacity, and storage will continue to improve at exponential rates, and this trend will consistently open up new oases of opportunity with respect to the features and functionality of technology products.

I recently read a high-tech marketing book titled ‘Inside the Tornado‘ by Geoffrey Moore; highly recommended for anyone interested in marketing technology products. A key takeaway from that book for me is an understanding of the concept of Tornadoes. A tornado is created when the demand for a technology product far outstrips supply. This usually occurs when the product wins massive consumer adoption, or adoption by pragmatic buyers like the corporate IT departments of large corporations. The IT industry has witnessed a number of tornadoes in the past. Some include:

  • The Distributed Computing Tornado which led to the rise of technology giants Intel and Microsoft.
  • The Desktop Printing Tornado which led to the rapid growth of HP’s Printing and Imaging Services Business.
  • The Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) tornado which led to the golden age of Oracle.

Tornadoes are inherently disruptive in nature. They replace existing technologies in a discontinuous process, creating enormous wealth for the new technology vendors, and making old vendors irrelevant in the marketplace.

What is the role of IT in tornadoes? Well, organizations find the inherent opportunities and threats of tornadoes very disturbing. They don’t want to be left behind in terms of the competitive advantage to be gained from the new technology. However, they also don’t want to adopt an immature technology that provides more issues than value. It is therefore the job of IT to help their organizations out in two important ways:

  • Performing cost benefit analyses to determine the optimum time period for adopting the disruptive technology
  • Implementing the new technology in a manner that would provide the most benefit, in terms of competitive advantage, with the least cost in terms of disruption to existing business operations and systems.
As long as Moore’s Law holds true, we will continue to witness tornadoes. In fact, the Cloud Computing Tornado is close at hand, with players like Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, Google and Amazon, all vying for leadership within different subsets of it. If we continue to have tornadoes, then corporations will continue to rely heavily on IT professionals for the support and advice necessary for navigating tornadoes.
If you are in IT, be rest assured that organizations around the world will continue to need your services. However, If you really want to rock, you must learn how to connect the technology and business ‘dots’ to provide integrated solutions to your customers. Organizations don’t care about technology, they want solutions to their business problems.
Image by Corbis and Google Images
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6 thoughts on “On Tornadoes, and why IT Folks will Remain Rockstars

  1. this is a great article .i think a great take-away is the fact that companies do not care about technology, they care about the bottom-line and any technology that can cut costs while increasing profits will always have a great buy-in.

    1. Right on Bimbo. Companies will always want that technology that will cut costs, increase profits or both. The interesting thing is that there will always be that NEW technology. 🙂

  2. Nice read, Efesa. I was wondering why IT have to do the cost benefit analysis. Although they would be involved in the analysis, they will only be ONE of the key players doing the analysis.

    1. Hmm.. good point. Other key stakeholders like the leaders of relevant business divisions, and functional areas like HR and Finance would have to do some analyses as well. They would seek to answer questions like “do we have enough money to do this now?” or “how would our employees respond to this new technology?”. IT’s analyses would be focused more on “What can this technology do for our business?” and “what would it cost to put it in place?” Thanks for your input! 🙂

  3. Hi Shen,
    I also would like to know what the next big thing is. For now, cloud computing is all the rave. There’s also a lot of talk about Big Data, and how that will change customer and operational insights. What I know though is that IT folks will be needed to drive the next big thing, whatever it may be.

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