11 July 2014

Softwarization bringing to a “new order of things”

The Prince” is an impressive political book written by Niccolò Machiavelli, the well-known Italian historian and political theorist. The book was published in 1532, five years after his death: about 5 centuries ago! Machiavelli brilliantly argued in his book that there is no constituency for innovation: "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things”. A reasoning perfectly applicable to the worries of our world, today!

As a concrete example, this nice piece of article elaborates about the downfall of an Industry, which had to face a technological singularity, a new order of thing, and did not move into “the digital world” well enough and fast enough. Barriers to change culture, hiding innovation, complacency ? A combination of these and other variables, probably…
Taking this metaphor, the technological singularity challenge that we are facing today is that “software is eating the world”: this is due to the ultra-broadband diffusion, the advances in Information Technologies (IT) and optical bandwidth, tumbling hardware costs and availability of open source software. A transformation of economy triggered by technology. In the past, it happened several times…

In fact, software eating the world means “dematerialization”, dramatic changes in processes, and, at the end of the day, a sort of economy phase transition (which, being a non-linear process, it is taking place suddenly, once the critical conditions are reached). You can wait and see, but the problem is that at the transition, it is too late to take any actions: the ecosystem will jump to a new order of things, whatever you’re doing. Nothing strange or surprising: it’s a Nature law, the law governing any ecosystem, even the matter.  That’s symmetry breaking: local decrease of entropy to optimize functionals, but overall global increase. After this sharp transition, a new order of things always emerge, just to quote Machiavelli, till the next one.

It is not probably a question of debating if/when/how software will eat the network (e.g., SDN and NfV are apparently going in that direction). Maybe, the real question is another one: what will be the “new order” after this transition will occur, who will be the winners and how positioning in the new ecosystems, with the right sustainable processes, required for a new flourishing biz ?

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