In this world of ever increasing numbers of computers and gadgets, it may seem strange to be predicting the end of the I.T. worker, but that’s exactly what I think the future holds.
Two trends in technology are converging which will diminish our need for people skilled in fixing our computers. In other words, the I.T. department at your office is going the way of the Dodo bird and here’s why.
People are increasingly moving their day-to-day computing needs onto (relatively) inexpensive portable devices such as smart phones and tablets. These devices continue to evolve at a break-neck pace, quickly gaining usability and features while dropping in price. Being skilled at fixing computers is based on the underlying premise that they are worth fixing in the first place. But that is no longer the case. When you device breaks or stops working, just throw it away and get a new one.
This very same trend has already happened with many other electronic devices such as T.V.s, VCRs, DVD players, wrist watches etc. It almost never makes economic sense to fix these devices. When the cost of the people exceeds the cost of the equipment they are paid to maintain, you get rid of the people.
“But what about my data?!” I hear you asking. Don’t worry about it. In the near future your devices will no longer store data locally. It’s all in the “cloud”. Just fire up your new device and all your data is there.
In short, the proliferation of cheap devices combined with the speed and availability of high speed internet access will have a dramatic impact on I.T. departments. Fewer and fewer organizations will be large enough to warrant full-time I.T. staff.
Yes there will still be I.T. people hidden in “the cloud”, and someone will still need to keep the networks running, but the days of the desktop P.C. technician are numbered.
Following a pattern that often repeats itself, when an old-media company is unable to innovate and compete on its own, it goes begging to the government for protection.
And so it is with Canada’s media and cable companies. With the end of the cable monopoly in sight, they are begging the CRTC to regulate over-the-top services.
These companies (Shaw, Bell, etc) control virtually every aspect of Canadian media delivery. Everything from the content itself all the way down to the physical wires and airwaves that beam the content to homes. Yet, they are so fat-and-happy with their position that even the mere thought that they might need to do something to compete sends them crying to the CRTC for relief.
Like the music industry before it, their demise can’t come soon enough.
Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin said in a recent interview that Microsoft is increasingly irrelevant. “I think we just don’t care that much [about Microsoft] anymore … They used to be our big rival, but now it’s kind of like kicking a puppy.”
Zemlin points out that Linux is dominant in every sector except the Desktop. And while the desktop is certainly not an insignificant portion of the market, this is also likely to change dramatically over the next 5 years as mobile devices start to replace laptops and desktops.
Think of it this way, is your next purchase likely to be another $1000 home computer with windows, or with some other device like a $300 tablet? There is no longer any compelling reason to buy a home computer with Windows so the trend is inevitably away from desktop PCs.
It won’t happen overnight but I’ll bet that sometime over the next couple years you’ll cast your gaze over to your home PC and realize it has a layer of dust on it. At that point you’ll realize that your beloved PC, the one that you thought you could never live without hasn’t even been turned on for weeks.
At first I was excited to hear that Netflix was starting to flex it’s muscle by acquiring exclusive rights to content such as “House of Cards”, but now I’m starting to think it was a strategic mistake this early in the fight.
By becoming bidding directly for original content, Netflix has positioned itself as a direct competitor to other TV specialty channels like Showtime, who today announced it’s yanking some of its content off Netflix.
At the moment Netflix is a viable replacement for cable and as such it should not compete for content with specialty channels like Showtime. Instead it should stick to buying the back catalog and redistribution rights. This gives it access to a much larger relatively inexpensive catalog.
Instead, if all primary content distributors perceive Netflix as direct competition, they won’t be likely to give Netflix any content forcing it to obtain all content by bidding for exclusivity against all the other distributors. This will effectively relegate it to being a web based specialty channel with some nice original content but little depth in it’s catalog.
Let me put it this way, would you pay $8 per month per channel for cable just to get shows on demand? No. But you are likely to pay $8/month to replace your cable completely and be able to watch everything on demand.
Today Netflix is a replacement for cable. If they start buying content they run the risk of becoming nothing more than an expensive web-based replacement for Showtime.
The war between cable and over-the-top services like Netflix just bumped up to the next level. Neflix has just secured rights to it’s first original show.
Washington Post article on the rise of Netflix and the impending battle with cable companies and internet providers.
Duncan Stewart of the Globe and Mail thinks that people cutting cable in 2011 in favor of over-the-top services like Netfix is over-Hyped. I completely agree. Changes in people’s behavior with regard to technology are much more likely to be evolutionary than revolutionary.
Take cell phones for example. It’s been a couple of decades since cell phones became common place but land lines still dominate, their numbers only just beginning to slowly decline as teenagers leave home with their cell phones and don’t sign up for land lines. We can expect the same trend with T.V.
My guess is it will take at least 5 years before over-the-top starts to have any impact and I’m guessing much longer once cable companies and telco’s really start to use their broadband and content holdings to cap bandwidth and interfere with consumer choice.
A study by the New York branch of investment bank Credit Suisse hints that attempts by cable companies to jack up broadband prices to combat Over The Top (OTT) services like Netflix may backfire by forcing consumers to choose between more cable T.V. packages, or more broadband.
From CNet News Year in Review:
“Blockbuster, the once dominant brick-and-mortar rental chain, finally filed for bankruptcy protection and Netflix ascended to the video-rental throne.”
Article talks about the pending battle between cable companies & web delivery of content and also makes reference to the rocky road ahead as DVD sales are also likely to plummet as online delivery continues to gain momentum.
According to a recent study, more than half of Americans age 25-29 live in households with cell phones only.
What I think is significant about this study is that the trend away from “land lines” is almost entirely a generational thing. Those older adults that grew up with phones attached to wires won’t easily give them up no matter how un-sensible it might seem to pay for phone service twice.
When teenagers grow up and move out, they take their cell phones with them and it never occurs to them to get a land line installed. Why would it?
Youth are spending less and less time watching traditional television and they are largely replacing that time with Internet based entertainment. So it seems likely that when little Bobby moves out and has to choose between cable or internet, it will be no contest.