The Virtuous CIO  

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October 18, 2010 — The Gartner Symposium, Day 2

This being the twentieth Gartner Symposium / Itxpo, early focus has been upon the enormous technology advances of the past twenty years. Aside from the usual self-congratulatory presentations, we are seeing an honest look at what the IT industry will look like over the next decade.

I think the law of unintended consequences struck this morning, though. One of the speakers, this morning, pointed out that we did not have the cell phone, or the World Wide Web in 1990. The Personal Computer was significant, but not dominant like it is today. I'm sure the advice and predictions made by the Gartner analysts in 1990 did not account for the striking changes we have seen over the past twenty years. I wonder how far they will miss the mark with this year's predictions.

Not to criticize Garter, because they do this better than almost anybody else. But it does point out the weaknesses of trying to use a crystal ball. In a steady-state universe, we can look at long term IT trends and make some accurate predictions on what things will look like over the next decade. But, we can do nothing like those fundamental paradigm shifts like the Internet.

So does that make attendance at the Symposium a compleat waste of time? Not at all. As technologists we are obligated to provide the best advice possible to the business. This is the best place I know of to find that advice. But we simply cannot follow blindly.