Scour the data sheets and marketing of the best business technology hardware and software and you will see complexity. You will see references to ports, protocols, abstractions, management models, object-oriented and non-object-oriented practices, etc. Hand that data sheet to a highly-intelligent, well-educated lay-person and you will get a blank stare.
It often feels like we thrive on the complexity, we water it, we feed it, we want it to grow big and strong. Maybe we do — maybe that complexity exists so that as masters of it we can command higher salaries – maybe it’s just a byproduct of moving so quickly. Either way it needs to change.
Hand your iPad to a child and within minutes they’re navigating through their favorite videos or playing a beloved game; no instruction or education is required. Hand an English major an SSH session and ask them to configure your switch, results will vary. Move up to our most common high-level abstraction ‘the orchestration layer’ and ask them to deploy an application. No dice.
This complexity isn’t necessary. This complexity can go away, it really can, but we’re missing something.
Enterprise technology is actually missing two things: the Bill Gates, and the Steve Jobs.
Sordid and detailed history aside Gates and Microsoft made computing a reality for the masses. The combination of good-enough technology in Windows, combined with powerful vision, sales, and marketing moved the PC into every home.
Jobs took this to another level and turned technology into art. His genius was in simplicity; providing consumers with technology they never knew they needed but could from that point forward never live without. He did this by combining hardware, software and service into experience. The iPod wasn’t a device like its competition. The iPod was the hassle-free experience of listening to exactly what you wanted, wherever you wanted to listen.
And then we return to enterprise technology. Even the sales pitch is atrocious. We focus on individual value propositions of point products. We occasionally get bold: tying a handful of products into a ‘solution’ and espouse the specific values of that solution in isolation. Never do we discuss the value to the business, the experience of the user. We never discuss anything that has true value, or real differentiation.
All is not lost, there are emerging technologies and trends that look to address this. Intent driven systems, and ‘Serverless’ are on the right track. They speak to the overall experience of architecting/deploying applications or coding/building them respectively. This is a major move in the right direction.
This move still needs help:
As consumers of enterprise tech, we must be more open to looking towards vision and outcomes. In fact, we must demand that the sellers we communicate with articulate that first.
As sellers, we must learn how to weave technology together for the higher-level purpose of those outcomes. We must then learn to communicate it in that fashion and get religious about doing so.
As vendors we must move from building products in isolation. A move to building products and driving trends that focus on tangible vision, and business outcomes.
As an enterprise technology community, we must hope for our Gates, and our Jobs. Our visionary leaders who can provide us the hope required so that we can buy into that vision and move forward towards it.
Technology should be simple to consume. It takes hard work and understanding to keep it that way.