Immortality Inc

It’s a presentation to the management board of one of one of the UK’s best known brands and I’m dusting-off my old Rubik’s Cube that had been occupying a place of honour in a box in the attic.


Budget Zen Garden

The talk has me trying to predict how new and evolving technology will impact their online business in the next three to five years and the Rubik’s Cube is a stage “Prop” I’m using to illustrate the interaction between the six key trends that I believe will play a part in their business planning.

I’ll admit that I never managed to solve Rubik’s three-dimensional puzzle as I was older than twelve when it first appeared. But if you stick labels with “Web Services”, “Security”, “Storage” and three more issues on the six sides of the cube and then imagine rotating the sides in a Rubik shuffle, you may grasp more clearly what I mean.

In reality and for any business now relying on technology, I’m now up to eleven dimensions which rather illustrate the complex nature of the predictive process once these have all been shuffled into each other.

There are other commercial factors to take into account of as well, European patents legislation being just one to worry about. The current patent frenzy surrounding the grey area between business methods and technical effects, recently led the Economist Magazine to comment “As the value that society places on intellectual property has increased, many companies have rushed to patent as many, often dubious, ideas as possible in an effort to erect legal obstacles to competitors.”

In my view, it’s quite possible, that at some point in the not too distant future, a company will develop a process, which is capable of prolonging human life almost indefinitely, interrupting the ageing process which is at an advanced stage in laboratory animals. Having discovered the “Elixir of Life”, it will be swiftly patented and priced to achieve maximum profitability. At this point it becomes interesting to speculate on the consequences of such a patent being protected by US legislation?

From a predictive position, the right technology may accelerate and optimise business processes but the risk of choosing the wrong technology is now at an all-time, uncomfortable high. The Rubik’s Cube analogy starts with a uniform technology or trend, displayed in a single colour on each of the six sides of the cube but shuffle these together in three twists of the wrist and you’re left with the real face of progress, the integration, reliability and complexity problem that confronts any sizeable business.

Last week, I was struck by the size of the Infosec Show in London. The first image that sprang to mind was the end sequence of Monty Python’s life of Brian, with the cast, hanging on their crosses and singing, “Always look on the bright side of life.”

Infosec is an illustration of one of the faces of my eleven-sided Rubik’s Cube in action. In an industry worth over $20 billion a year, everyone has a solution but not necessarily the universal solution to your security problems that can interoperate successfully with all the technology challenges out there.

Ultimately, all one can do is prepare the management of a company for what might lie downstream. As an example, we’re starting to see the young migrating to video-phones and the emerging parallel world of the iPod existence, because "The internet is for homework and geeks. “ However, it’s a good sign when the management team of a large company are prepared to give a concentrated forty-five minutes thought towards what I suspect should be anticipating as a business towards 2008. As long as nobody tries to shuffle my Rubik’s Cube I’ll be fine.

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