American psychologist Anders Ericsson is the inventor of what is called the 10,000 hour rule: this is how much time it takes – provided you have the talent – to become one of the best in the world at your discipline – whether it is tennis, playing violin or other activities. Up until recently, this also applied to commercial enterprises: talent is ingenuity, and if you want to be a global leader, then work hard and perfect what you have to offer.
This is no longer the case, or would anyone claim that the biggest reason a company such as WhatsApp with 55 employees reached a selling price of 18 billion dollars was because it worked on perfecting the provision of a service persistently over a long period with its employees? “Yes, well,” you will argue, “that’s an extreme example,” and “Facebook only wanted to merge with a competitor before it threatened Facebook’s own business model.” This argument is both right and wrong. Yes, it is an extreme example, but no, it is not unique, nor will it remain so.
The digitalisation of our society and its business model will continue to see “faster” becoming more important than ever. SAP founder Hasso Plattner gets to the point of the matter: “Missing a unique innovation wave can mean that we are no longer in the market.” Thus, it is a modern form of Darwinism: it is not the strongest or most intelligent species that survives, but the one that is best able to adapt.
We Germans must master a balancing act in this new world: our German perfectionism makes us successful; German engineering is popular. However, in the future we will have to say more often that a “good” solution is better than a perfect one, provided it is faster. Because if we only accept long evaluation phases and introduction periods – especially for IT projects – the corresponding requirements threaten to have changed again by the time the products are launched on the market. The equation is simple: an 80 percent solution that can be implemented quickly and provides results is better than a supposed 100 percent one that, at the time of market launch, only meets 60 percent of the now current requirements.
In this context, you must surely understand why cloud computing is so important in IT – and will become even more important: cloud solutions do not distinguish themselves primarily by their architecture, operating model or business model; rather, cloud technology means: fast, good, but especially technology that can easily adapt at any time and which leads to fast, scalable results.
Just be aware: you will not be able to adjust faster to changed data with any technology other than well-thought out cloud solutions. With cloud, you have fast and flexible access to whole infrastructures, you can implement new applications, adapt and also quickly get rid of them again if necessary.
I recommend you think about this when the next big IT project is coming up: what is the goal? What is important? Divide the large IT elephants into smaller pieces, but have things implemented quickly. A lot can change in 10,000 hours. You will be able to read the result in your business success and competitiveness.