After 15 years working on V3, The INQUIRER and, for anyone with a good memory, IT Week, I'm off to pastures new at the start of 2016. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to test my memory and surprise/depress the older among us with what I see as the biggest headlines from that decade and a half in the technology industry, which has changed beyond recognition from when I joined in 2000.
E-business was a brave new world
There was lots of discussion and encouragement to get firms to consider running their business on the internet, and I typed the phrase ‘electronic data interchange' (EDI) more times than I care to remember. This went hand-in-hand with the notion of e-commerce, of firms taking customer orders or handling sales transactions online. Companies like eBay and Amazon trailblazed the path to today's online shopping world, and e-business doesn't even exist as a term anymore as it's just the way we do business. But this was all still a revolutionary idea at the start of the millennium.
The iPhone hadn't reinvented the mobile phone market
Like most of the world, I was the proud owner of an iPod, starting out with the cheapie Shuffle navigating up to a touch-screen version. I spent a lot of time explaining to anyone who would listen that if only Apple would add a phone capability to the iPod, it would be the perfect device. I like to think that someone in my network passed on that feedback to Apple, although I accept it's more likely that Steve Jobs came up with the idea on his own or from countless similar requests from iPod users. But lo and behold in 2007 the first iPhone hit the shops to a mass buying spree.
I still remember the sheer excitement when the first review model arrived in the IT Week offices - and I also recall the heated debate we had about whether it was appropriate for IT Week to cover this newfangled device at all, let alone as the cover story. After all, at this time it was a ‘consumer' device. The whole idea of consumerisation didn't exist and companies didn't open up their work email, sales and other systems to untrusted Apple devices.
We took a risk and ran with it on the cover, and now it's hard to imagine an office or train carriage not full of people staring at their smartphone screens, checking a quick work email while adding a Facebook status update.
Facebook - what's that?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the whole notion of social media didn't even exist in 2000. Imagine a world where you just went to an event without live tweeting it, ate a sandwich without sharing its contents with the world in visual form, or long-lost friends who stayed long lost. It's hard to envisage that private, secluded and lonely world now, as social networks have grown to become some of the biggest players in tech space and businesses have quickly realised the value of managing their brands via Twitter, Instagram and all.
Software-as-a-service was for SMBs and the cloud didn't exist
Of all the huge shifts and disruptive technologies from the past 15 years, the cloud/SaaS revolution takes the crown for me. None of us thinks twice now about accessing our work email or other business apps when working from home with a laptop, or sitting on a beach in Hawaii or some other exotic location.
But in the early 2000s, SaaS was very much the domain of the small business, which quickly embraced the technology as a way of accessing the kind of software and updates previously restricted to the big boys of the business world. I remember going to an early Salesforce user event in New York around a decade ago, which boasted more like 160 attendees than the current 160,000. The key theme of the conference was trying to convince larger enterprises that SaaS was a valid option, and that the cloud was a secure way of doing business.
There may still be security issues surrounding the cloud, whether it's data leaks or state-snooping, but cloud computing is now the default for IT infrastructure.
The decline of Microsoft
It would have been impossible to predict in 2000 that Microsoft, then the giant of the computing world raking in billions from its Windows cash cow and our reliance on beige boxes, would be the also-ran, desperately attempting to redirect its business to fit in with this new on-demand and online model.
What I can predict is that any company that hasn't completed a shift to mobile and the cloud by the end of this decade won't be able to compete long-term, as dinosaurs get trampled on by agile startups, and the IoT connects everything to everything. Bring on the next 15 years!
Intel wants to get inside your car, despite missing out on mobile
'We'll keep fighting to fight to keep the web free and open,' claim EFF
Breached in March by the same attackers, claim 'insiders'
And all for less than £150, according to Keith