Analytics Brief: Disruptive By Any Name

We look at three technologies -- Windows Vista, ILM, and virtualization -- and find that the most disruptive one is turning out to be the no-brainer of the group.
MBA programs like to teach about disruptive technologies and how spotting one, and latching onto it, can propel one's career. But to a degree, we've lost sight of the original definition of a disruptive technology: one originally described as a lower level, cheaper technology that sneaks in and eventually replaces some mainstream, sustaining technology though a gradual increase in capability and performance. In this Analytics Brief, we look at three technologies that span the disruptive-to-sustained technology spectrum. What binds these three technologies together is their promise, along with the gut-wrenching process of adopting them. What's surprising is that the most disruptive is turning out to be the no-brainer of the group.

Of Windows Vista, information life-cycle management, and virtualization, it's ironic that Vista adoption is on IT's back burner and ILM still gets a lukewarm reception. In any sense, neither Vista nor ILM can be described as disruptive under the original definition. Windows XP predated Vista and tiered storage predated ILM, making them prime examples of the sort of sustained technologies that are typically adopted as a matter of course. Doing ILM right, however, requires a labor-intensive data classification effort, and that pushes ILM down on the priority list. Vista, too, has a tough time standing up to a close ROI scrutiny, and our current fascination with all things Web 2.0 doesn't help. Meanwhile, virtualization seems poised to reshape the way applications are deployed and managed, so much so that legitimate security concerns don't appear to have slowed adoption.

In the end, all three of these technologies have a place in enterprise IT. Simply buying more storage year after year is a strategy that's played itself out, and external factors like the risk posed by new e-discovery rules will have most businesses crafting some sort of ILM plan. Vista, like other Microsoft operating systems before it, will eventually work its way up the priority list. And while virtualization is and will remain a hot technology, it's foolish to deploy it without a security and management plan in hand.

This Analytics Brief will help shape the discussion around these important technologies, and while they may not fit the textbook definition for a disruptive technology, you can bet each will profoundly affect the way IT does its business.

Full reports on each of these topics are at Business Innovation Reports.

Art Wittmann,

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