Doesn't it seem that every dozen years or so, some "revolution" changes the way we use information? The convergence of computing and communications services, the availability of "appliance"-like devices, the proliferation of online services ... these are just manifestations of the latest wave of capability.
In the 1960s (not that I am old enough to remember) there was the advent of monolithic mainframe computers. The 1970s was the era of the minicomputers. The 1980s saw personal computers and the introduction of wide-spread communications services. And, the 1990s can generally be called the first era of true internet services.
So, what of the first decade in the 21st century? What did 2000-2009 bring to us?
Well, the iPod (arguably one of the more significant game-changers of recent time) was a product of this era, as was salesforce.com and countless other enabling services. I tend to think of the past ten years as being more transitional than definitive, but then again weren't each of the decades in the information era merely a segue to the next?
The decade ahead is setting up to start out with an emphasis on things relating to "The Cloud." I have no idea who coined that phrase, but it's been around for a few years now - at least among the smart folks developing network-enabled services.
The Cloud is the idea of computing on demand. And, it's changing the possibilities for computing by giving individuals and businesses alike access to an array of powerful applications and services. All of these will be available "over the net."
In The Cloud, applications are accessible anywhere, anytime, and storage becomes, for all intents, infinite.
Enough about that - there are many better-informed sources of technican jargon about The Cloud than me. What I can tell you is this: The Cloud is introducing material changes to the sourcing strategies of companies - small and large.
Despite the predecessor "false starts" around "enterprise computing" and "utility computing" ... this Cloud thing has legs. I am seeing CIO after CIO take very aggressive positions around the need for capital to build ones own computing and communications services. Intend, they are looking to the industry to show that the asset-light virtues of Cloud computing are real.
While I don't know whether this will play out at the dominant theme of the 2010s, I can tell you that the new decade is starting with The Cloud as the top big idea.