The Magic Takeover
History repeats itself as we forget our past. We have all this knowledge at our fingertips but we are easily distracted. While we are distracted by work, political issues, family and more input than ever before in human history, our brains can only handle a very limited amount of information cognitively and from a task perspective only two things.
Cloud companies are performing the current version of the greatest slight of hand trick ever. Through distraction, noise, pressure and promise, they are taking over business from the bottom up as a new utility.
The tactics used aren’t the same of the days of Standard Oil or other companies that formed Monopolies or Oligopolies but the result is the same. Think about telephone regulation. Large cloud providers now have a firm grip on companies small, medium and large. The choices for companies to maintain their own computing environments are now starting to become limited. The costs to maintain infrastructure and services are seemingly higher from a line by line cost perspective. I would say the water looks fine from the top, but you don’t see the glass at the bottom. Our personal data and corporate data is now in the hands of cloud providers. If we examine the “who” of cloud providers, we will find that all roads lead back to only a few.
Between Microsoft, Amazon and Google there have been many acquisitions in 2018 and these companies continue to consume companies. That within itself isn’t scary but if there is a consideration for the companies they have consumed prior to acquisitions. This market is collapsing into a centralized utility.
In the Microsoft Keynote (2018) I heard a few things that caused me to realize we are really in the beginning of the new monopoly.
What is tech intensity, exactly? According to Nadella, it’s about a focus on both adopting and building technology.
“Each of us has to do really two things: One is we need to make sure that we’re adopting the latest and greatest technology. And second, we’ve got to build our own digital capability. Irrespective of which industry you’re in, you’re a digital business and you’ve got to do both,” he said.
He positioned it as “survival” and pointed out industries in the past that did not convert technology quickly.
Nadella had a theme of how technologies shape and drive business… “customer engagement and digital transformation or ensuring security and trust,” and said that it’s also about a collective move to reshape industries and companies. He made it clear that technology drives business not the other way around.
I had a “twilight zone” moment and thought about how with 125 million customers and millions of accounts beyond this customer count how Microsoft itself is a “super power.” I couldn’t help but have some fear. I thought that Nadella looked like a kind of soft spoken brilliant and kind character kindly telling us that he is the key to our survival and our future will be driven by him. It resonated deeply with me because of the implication and subtle nature of how technologies are invisible in plain site. It scares me for my children and with the realization that we in the US do not have a right to privacy, it means that every aspect of our lives and our person is exposed for consumption. Our forefathers didn’t plan on Facebook or the internet and neither did any religion. I also believe that the EU is much more sensitive to these ideas vs the US. We in the states have a tolerance for this behavior in the name of capitalism but there should be limits, they don’t exist today.
In Plain Sight
Think about companies that you interact with in your personal life and professional life. Look at the services and technologies that support these companies and support you. How far do you have to go before you realize that you are working with only a handful of companies? I question what regulation looks like on a global scale. I wonder how these companies will be regulated based on their scale and scope. If they aren’t regulated (which I really believe they will be), what will the world look like in 10 – 15 years?
Based on the behaviors of these companies, they will also consume intermediaries and managed service companies. As I have stated in previous posts, they will go direct to consumer for corporate services. In other words, there will be limited need for experts in companies that help with organizational operations. These companies will take the run and maintenance, they will introduce ways to be the whole of IT. They are already doing it for small and medium business. It is cheaper today to replace a computer than have some computer guy around the office fix it. All of the technical issues are converted to training issues. All of the training is available or will be available in knowledge snippets and as the younger generation of digital natives become the bulk of the workforce, most of them will take care of their own problems though self service.
This is happening right in front of us. This isn’t about right or wrong but at the end of the day, our lives and our privacy is not our own. These companies are putting the data about us from our private, personal and professional lives together and serving it up for use. From my perspective it is a dystopian reality coming to fruition.
What do you think?