2017 Predictions: Careful Forward Steps With Eyes on the ‘Lone Nuts’

Paul Stephenson, Office of the CTO Americas Field at VMware

Paul Stephenson, Office of the CTO Americas Field at VMware

There is so much excitement in virtualization and cloud innovation right now, and I’m proud to work at a place that is on the bleeding edge of new technology that provides flexibility and security to everyday consumers and those in the highest levels of government.

The truth, though, is that to keep to organizational goals we need a road map to tell us exactly where we are and where we are headed. There’s so much conversation around tomorrow’s amazing technology that we lose sight of today and the paradigm shift in the zero-sum game of enabling nimble technology versus maintaining secure access to information.

What’s on the Horizon

When people ask me about 2017, I tell them what I can see on the horizon: cloud apps, virtualization, and containers. I can’t predict much beyond that because things tend to continue on a rather settled path until the next “revolution,” when everything takes off.

Imagine a line graph of an organization’s technological development that resembles a hockey stick, where the slow upward slope of the handle represents steady but progressive growth and onboarding of technology, while the sharp curve at the end of the stick represents a renaissance of sorts, a tech boom when an organization reaches the next level of technological capability.

We all want to get to the end of the hockey stick—a reality where we have an arsenal of shiny new tech toys to play with in the sandboxes of our organizational missions. In the here and now, though, I tell people we need to focus on “crawl, walk, and run.” Build the progress you can carefully and realistically achieve until it’s ready for deployment, and then see what other innovations may be at your disposal. It’s impossible to know what the entire technological landscape will look like at a given point until you get there.

Keep an Eye on the ‘Lone Nuts’

We can keep on task, however, while keeping our eyes on the eventual prize. One way to achieve this is to maintain a watchful eye on the “lone nuts”—the brave early adopters and crafters of revolutionary technology. We all know that person who, when at a party or a concert, bravely and solitarily stands up and does a lively dance, whether others join in or not. It only takes a “second nut”—or a first follower— to encourage a few more courageous adopters, and before you know it a trend is born.

Lone nuts aren’t just the life of the party; they’re status-quo disruptors like Netflix, Uber and, yes, VMware—the companies taking leaps to change the way things are done. It’s always worth keeping an eye on them to see if the crowd looks the other way to the next product or offering or if it embraces the change and jumps in. It’s up to each organization to look inward and determine which step, bold or cautious, it wants and needs to take.

Read more from VMware executives on what’s to come for technology innovation in 2017 and beyond.