A thorough consideration of the future of digital commerce.
When the information technology industry first emerged, it was largely conceived as a tool for larger corporations. It’s since become more focused on the consumer, leading to truly innovative leaps in technology. According to this book, innovation was once mostly an “inside-out” process that moved from proprietary technologies and organizational control to the public, but now it’s becoming “outside-in,” focusing on public collaboration, customer participation, and the sharing of an IT ecosystem. In general, innovation is shifting to a human platform, argues Moschella (Customer-Driven IT, 2003, etc.), a research fellow at the Leading Edge Forum, the “thought leadership arm” of DXC Technology, a $25 billion global IT services provider. He says that the line between work and play has become blurred, as have the boundaries between the virtual and the real. This change has birthed new professional requirements, as well—the ideal executive, Moschella says, will be fluent in the languages of business and IT, as corporations need “double-deep” workers who understand the industry in its totality. All of these changes are effecting a monumental movement from cloud computing to “the Matrix,” which the author defines as an “increasingly intelligent societal infrastructure.” The further integration of the digital into every aspect of human life, he says, will cause industries to explore “cross-industry capabilities”: horizontal expansion into multiple types of industries. Moschella panoramically assesses the consequences of these transformations for the IT industry as a whole, considering not only their opportunities, but also their potential risks and ethical pitfalls.
Moschella’s expert command of the industry’s history is extraordinary. His book is subdivided into digestible questions, which he tackles concisely with a relentless emphasis on the power of pictorial illustration. Indeed, nearly every page comes complete with some kind of visual aid—charts, graphs, illustrations, lists of terms. The author’s prose can sometimes be quite dense, however, and it traffics liberally in the gratuitously technical jargon that’s typical of the IT world. That said, he clearly isn’t aiming his book at an audience of untutored neophytes. One of the principal strengths of this work is its sweeping breadth, as Moschella traverses an expansive stretch of intellectual territory. His consideration of China’s economic rivalry with the United States, for example, is especially impressive; while the Asian country will continue to support its monopoly on its own domestic market and remain a burgeoning IT powerhouse, the author says, there will still be plenty of opportunities for American businesses, as well as for those in a rising India. The author also prudently withholds self-assured predictions, when appropriate. For example, when he considers the cultural impact of a shift to the Matrix, which seems to involve a diminishment of individual privacy, he exercises impressive restraint: “while social media has enabled a great many important innovations, the expectation that we will expose our full selves to everyone represents a major psychological and cultural shift, whose end effects are still far from clear.”
A remarkably comprehensive treatment of an ever-changing commercial landscape.