Roadmap to the E-Revolution
A Strategic Guide to the Business Opportunities and Discontinuities
Fueled by Advancing Information Technologies
Roadmap to the e-Revolution
By Paul Kampas
(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Engineering Management Review
(First Quarter 2001)
Information technology is advancing in a predictable sequence of five “megawaves.” We are nearing the end of the third megawave, with the fourth megawave building rapidly (Note: Since publication in 1999, we are now fully in the fourth megawave). Visionary leaders carry an implicit mental map of this pattern deep in their minds. Because the five megawaves follow similar patterns of development, important lessons from past waves can be used for anticipating and exploiting future waves. This article provides an explicit and thought-provoking “roadmap” of this pattern for both technical and business leaders to see, debate, and use as they reinvent their enterprises in the e-revolution.
IT enables advances in civilization by providing a form of external nervous system that links the ideas and actions of individuals and organizations into an increasingly informed, coordinated, and connected whole. To gain a perspective on the power of this external nervous system, it is valuable to observe the striking lockstep between advances in IT and advances in civilization throughout the ages:
How can leaders of today better navigate their organizations through these increasingly frequent and disruptive “megawaves” of IT-fueled change? In my experience, the most successful leaders do this by building a mental roadmap of how IT is creating opportunities and discontinuities , and they use that roadmap constantly in developing strategy and making decisions. By making this roadmap explicit and shared, leaders can include a diversity of senior managers and thought leaders in this critical activity. The intent of this article is to help readers and their organizations develop and apply such an explicit and shared roadmap via a three-step process:
Step 1 – Framing the Functionality: A simple but powerful five-level framework, the information system function chain, is introduced as the conceptual foundation to mapping the e-revolution.
Step 2 – Mapping the Megawaves: Information technologies evolve up the information system function chain in a highly predictable pattern, enabling the visualization and mapping of five predictable megawaves of IT-fueled change (we are currently in the third megawave).
Step 3 – Envisioning and Engaging: Opportunities and discontinuities created by the third and fourth megawaves are envisioned and then applied to the challenging process of discarding old business definitions and strategies and engaging new ones that embrace the major shifts taking place.
onto the first step, it is important to note that we live in a period where
historic changes are underway. Five hundred years from now our descendents
will look back and marvel at how much was accomplished. Such changes are
turbulent and challenging en route, and succeeding in them requires us to
both plan methodically (the focus of this article) as well as to adapt in
the moment. Doing both of these at the same time is difficult, but nothing
short will likely work in these transformative times.
See more in Envisioning Business.
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