2016 | Be Prepared to STOP!

This is the time of year I get prodded to write up a pithy outlook for the year. It seems to be harder this year.  Seemingly, like everyone else I have had my “nose to the grindstone” far too long. That and the fact that my crystal ball looks mostly cloudy with a chance of rain.

So, let’s get the big variable out of the way: We have a weird global economy: fragile, exuberant, volatile and fractious.  Looks great, smells recessionary.  Feels improving, tastes deflationary.  It’s a setup for both some runaway successes and abject failures.

Amidst all this,  what should we expect in 2016?  I had a friend in college who, during a night of antics with her friends, stole a big road sign.  She put it above her bed.  It read: “BE PREPARED TO STOP.”  Got me thinking about 2016.  In this volatile year, whatever you are doing in 2016: BE PREPARED TO STOP.

Here’s what is ripe for the stopping in 2016???stop

Another Unicorn

A lot of Unicorns will hit the bricks this year.  Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing products out there…Seriously, I can’t live without Uber.  

But what we can live without is the Unicorn capital structure.  Here’s why.. You know what happens when Unicorn investors are not happy with revenue growth?  They stop investing and start pulling the staff change slot machine lever,hoping for the magic combination to come up.  When that does not work they fall back on soaking their customers.  This starts the revenue downward spin cycle.  I’ve seen it again and again, and it always ends in application and company tragedy.

The Ivory Tower of IT Saying “NO”….Again.

The revenue generating part of enterprise have always had great ideas on how to do business better, more efficiently, and profitably.  And, for decades those ideas are pursued only to hit a  ubiquitous IT wall of “NO.”  “No” comes in many forms. Usually, something like, “We already have a gazillion dollars invested in (really, really old and custom) technology etc…”

The shift of operations spending IT dollars started years ago.  But the business is now pretty much fed up with legacy infrastructure.  It’s just too slow…too expensive.   Let me be blunt: We know you have large investment in older technology. We know it requires a lot of control to run. But business requirements and technology is evolving at breakneck speed.  In 2016, if IT is not solving business problems and just taking a disposition of saying NO …the business is going to go around you.

Someone Telling Us There Are No Servers Available

In the time it took you to read this far, I have spun up two enormous servers “somewhere else” for the cost of a salad in midtown manhattan.   What’s more, I have connected them to our network so they are indistinguishable from a server running in our own office. They are, for all practical purposes, absolutely secure.   I like to think of it as cloud reversal, because instead of running “stuff on the cloud” I have just pulled the cloud to me.

Today when you say there is no server space…  here’s what happens:

This developer/ analyst I know built a really awesome business optimization model.  He wants to test in full, but IT says that it will cost $150K in new servers just for a test instance.  In other words they said “NO”.  So what’s an enterprising analyst to do?  He independently set up all the servers he could ever want on Amazon for $200 per month and started testing it there. (Also, charged it to his company credit card.)  I’m sorry. But, this financial disconnect between what IT says servers cost and what any regular joe can get is just too wide to survive 2016.

In summary, my read on the market is that there will be plenty of money for projects.  Plenty of money for investment.  But I think that this is the year companies will really take stock at where they are blowing money on sustaining roadblocks.  If you think you are managing something that is super duper expensive and produces terrible results, BE PREPARED TO STOP.

Stay tuned for more 2016 discussions including:
“That Time You Hired Nate Silver and He Quit”