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Rapid technology evolution & how to stay up to date!

Home » News » Innovation » Rapid technology evolution & how to stay up to date!

The problem with emerging technology is that nobody can truely know what it will evolve into as it becomes more widely adopted. Some technologies are so malleable, we're left with an evolving understanding of the ways it could be used across an ever growing range of stakeholders (blockchain springs to mind).

Alongside a seemingly ever growing set of use cases and stakeholders, the vocabularly we use to refer to the technology and its uses also seems to grow. Pioneers are usually the first to coin phrases, but, like all things to do with language, those phrases evolve over time as more and more people get invovled.

Similar sounding terms for technologies might be slightly different in applications, and others may have more than one definition. So how do we keep up to date? Working in the technology space is exciting because of the limitless innovation that surrounds us, but our employers and those we manage expect us to keep up to date with everything that's relevant to them. There are only 24 hours in a day, and we all have private lives, plus we need to sleep!

The problem of brand new technology and our evolving understanding

Take 5G, at the time of writing (7th June 2019) it had only been launced in the UK on one network (EE) until Vodafone launches it's network in a few weeks time. At this point we know literally nothing other than the potential capabilities of the 5G network (10Gbit/s), and anecdotal evidence from bloggers who have used the EE 5G network in various locations across London during it's first few weeks.

In reality, the bloggers use of 5G is incredibly mundane given the potentially exciting ways the technology could be used. Simply installing an internet speed app on a 5G handset to test internet speeds in busy locations around London isn't exactly ground breaking given that future speeds of up to 10Gbit/s, or even half of that, could change the world considerably when combined with IoT, automation and AI.

EE's 5G wireless network project at Glastonbury could be one of the first meaningful UK tests of 5G's capabilities, but we really are only at the beginning. Once human innovation kicks in, we could find thousands of future uses for the technology that could not be conceived right now.

Confusion & frustration with maturing terminology

A few decades after the initial emergence of the term "cloud computing" in a compaq internal document in 1996, we find ourselves with a wide range of uses of "cloud computing" technology and a large vocabulary of terms to match them.

A post on LinkedIn today by Terry Carlson at Alberta Blue Cross clearly demonstrates how confusing terminology can be as technology evolves when refering to a "hybrid cloud".

 

What is your definition of a hybrid cloud?

A couple of definitions in the industry are

1. a mix of offsite cloud resources (typically public cloud) integrated with on-premise solutions.

2. a mix of different cloud providers - eg: integration between cloud services from AWS and Azure.

Gartner's definition of Hybrid cloud computing refers to policy-based and coordinated service provisioning, use and management across a mixture of internal and external cloud services.

No matter which definition makes sense to you the fact is we need to be clear what we are referring to when we throw these terms around.

Terry Carlson - LinkedIn post, 7th June 2019.

The problem of language when referring to developing technologies is also compounded once the technology seeps into an entreprenurial realm and is used to create whole new business models such as SaaS, PaaS, LaaS, MBaaS, FaaS and serverless computing.

On the subject of cloud computing there are a wide range of deployment models including private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud, community cloud, distributed cloud, multicloud, big data cloud and HPC cloud.

All of this represents a lot to know about should a conversation strike up about it with colleagues or clients, and this is just one form of technology. So, I've done some research and put together some strategies that are used by CIOs of large corporates to stay up to date.

Strategies and tools to keep up to date with emerging tech

Let's be honest, we are only human and most of us tend to only learn information on subjects that interest us or directly influence our private or professional lives.

An article on enterprisersproject.com explored how CIOs of established organisations stayed ahead of the game with new and emerging tech. Use of social media, like Twitter and LinkedIn, to stay up to date and following choice publications was mentioned several times, but other key strategies included:

  • Asking engineers about innovation in their field.
  • Meeting with vendors of key emerging technologies.
  • Meeting with other IT leaders and share notes and discuss new technologies.
  • Watching TED talks
  • Google Alerts on key topics

Choosing the best strategies and sticking with them

Like most things in life, it's important to choose your battles. There is barely enough time in the day anyway, without frantically trying to read everything out there to stay up to date with everything.

Personally, I use a combination of the above strategies to keep my knowledge contemporary. It's a constant work-in-progress that evolves with each new nugget of important knowledge that comes my way.

How do you keep up to date? I'd love to hear your approaches to keep up to date with fast moving tech.

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