Last week, my colleague Federico and I spent some good time with Forrester’s Analyst John McCarthy. From my perspective, John has a unique way of making you think, “OMG! The future is changing so fast!” John’s brain works at an accelerated rate, processing anecdotes and research data while he energetically delivers the message. We talked about one of his favorite topics: The perfect storm of technology change, and how the rate of change is only going to escalate.
We tried –and I choose my words carefully—to frame the conversation around the five key megatrends we’ve outlined: applications everywhere, the new bi-functional aspect of IT, consumerization of IT, digitization of businesses and the everything-as-a-service phenomenon.
I think the image to the right epitomizes what we talked about. I took this photo while riding the NYC subway. It’s a billboard announcing 42 new apps geared to simplify the life of m
ore than 8.2
million daily riders of New York’s public transit system.
These 42 apps are the result of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) App Quest, a software development challenge that yielded apps for travel planning, locating entrances to subway stations, tracking buses in real-time, in addition to providing entertainment and featuring the artwork that decorates various stations in the subway system, which is plenty.
This was a very smart move by the city of New York, first because the MTA recognized that they have huge amounts of data at their disposal, and that this data can be very valuable for their users. They also acknowledged the pervasiveness of smartphone applications, especially in a city like New York. Furthermore, they knew enough to recognize the advantages of conducting a contest, and basically crowd-source their apps, versus embarking in an effort to developing them by themselves.
The software challenge had $15,000 dollars in prizes. That sum would have probably paid for a few weeks of a good project manager in NY, and that’s it, no programmers. Yet the resulting product was not only bigger in terms of number of applications, but probably much more creative and sophisticated.