Revolutionary holdout… Maybe Bowie not Lennon. Definitely not Lenin.

What time is it when a consultant blogs? Time to turn and face the strain.

I heard Andrew McAfee say recently that he doesn’t think we’re involved in a revolution; that it’s more of a transformation. Sigh. I need to go on the record saying I respectfully disagree. He said revolutions are generally short and violent. (I’m paraphrasing.) To try and make my argument, I did what I normally do in these situations, I researched “revolution” on Wikipedia. I won’t argue the violent observation, but the short I will. Take the American Revolution, for instance. It lasted 9 years from 1774-1783. More importantly, it was a war for independence and overthrowing existing societal and governmental order. Am I the only one seeing the similarities here? Am I wrong, perhaps?

From Wikipedia:
17741783: the American Revolution establishes independence of the thirteen North American colonies from Great Britain, creating the republic of the United States of America. A war of independence in that it created one nation from another, it was also a revolution in that it overthrew an existing societal and governmental order: the Colonial government in the Colonies.

In fairness, I caught the revolutionary bug from Joe Kraus whom I interviewed for an article on the disintermediation of high-priced consultants due to SaaS applications in the enterprise.

JotSpot CEO, Joe Kraus admits, “JotSpot is trying to enable a Do-It-Yourself revolution. When you give people the ability to do something that previously only experts could do, I think very interesting things happen.” Kraus doesn’t think the impact will be overnight, however. He believes the adoption of the new technologies will take about five years. “I think we generally tend to over-estimate the impact of technologies in the short term and radically under-estimate them in the long-term. There’s a lot of racket and fear that this is going to displace traditional consulting, and my answer would be, in the short term, I don’t think so, but in the long term, I think there’s more risk.”

Yes, we’re transforming the enterprise with new alternatives, but there is an undercurrent of shall-I-say… Raging against the Machine… that is driving the move to self-help applications. I’ve been harping on the socio-cultural underpinnings on the “movement” and the freedom of choice that web 2.0 applications provide to users for months now. For whatever their reason (I hate Outlook, Excel, SAP, Oracle, fillintheblank for xxx reason), users are turned off by the establishment’s choices and are psychologically primed to look at alternatives. That smacks of revolution– not transformation.

Along these lines, before the rumors broke about Google and YouTube, I had wanted to publish some commentary from my old friend, Richard Holway. I’ve never known an analyst to be as prescient as Richard. Here’s what Richard (who publishes for the UK market) had to say about the ch-ch-changes taking place in today’s enterprise and for today’s enterprise suppliers.

McAfee is an incredibly bright guy. I’m ashamed to admit I disagree with him, but for ITSinsiders who’ve known me over the years, I have a hard time not stating my opinion. And, also for the record: Lord knows, I’ve been wrong before. But if I’m right, I feel we’re missing something more deeply philosophical in our discussions of Enterprise 2.0. It frames how truly remarkable this wave of “next net” is. I heard a lot of this talk during web 1.0 from digital evangelists who were inspired to subvert the prevailing paradigm. Today, we have the tools and the passion. The sad truth is, we won’t see the results until widespread user adoption takes root. This is something I’m sure McAfee and I can agree on.

Author: Susan Scrupski

Longtime fan of technology to improve humanity.

9 thoughts on “Revolutionary holdout… Maybe Bowie not Lennon. Definitely not Lenin.”

  1. Susan
    my references were from a childhood spent reading way too much history…!-), so even wikipedia is likely to be far more accurate.

    I reckon we are in for a reformation rather than a revolution. Some things will change, but less than the zealots will have us believe.

    But then, as that happy chap kafka once said, “every revolution evaporates, leaving only the slime of a new bureaucracy.”

    As Arnold said, “I’ll be back”

  2. Hello there, Thomas. As it turns out, Wikipedia, that snarky little web 2.0 product (ironic?) was my source on the “short.” There is a page that lists the timing on all the revolutions. It was the Wikipedia zealot editors that gave me the timeframe. So you, too, can contribute to the dialogue and challenge the Wikipedia editors and put forward your timing on the American Revolution. There were several (admittedly, not the majority) that were longer than a few months or a year. I chose the American Revolution because it was the one I think most Yanks are familiar with (and this comprises the bulk of my readership.)

    I’m sticking with the revolutionary language for now. I’m praying it doesn’t lead to bloodshed, but I feel the resulting overthrow of the existing order (apps and central control hierarchies) will justify the metaphor.

    Thanks for dropping in!

  3. Susan,
    interesting thoughts. super blog.
    When would you date the start of the revolution?

    Not being American, I’m cautious about commenting on your revolution but
    I suppose an American historian would date the outbreak of the revolution as the protest against the Intolerable Acts in October 1774. I’d argue that the revolution itself was short, ending with the declaration of independence in 1776. The war of independence that followed was the long bit.

    Most revolutions are short, sharp, and bloody and fail. Think Bay of pigs, Baden in 1847, Paris in 1846, Germany in 1919, India 1857, Slagters nek in 1816, Russia 1905….

    I posted something vaguely relevant a couple of months ago

    I dont there is real evidence of revolution yet. I’m yet to read the 2.0 Thomas Paine, and no one is throwing Microsoft CDs into the charles river.

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