Running your own business in the western world of today has become quite an effort in these dramatic economic times. Well, that’s like kicking-in an allready open door, OK , but when you’re in the IT-business like me there are some new factors to make your business-life even more complex! Being 54 years of age, I can vividly remember the “Stone Age” of the no-internet, no mobile phones and no email. And how slow daily life was passing by! I’m not planning to write here a column of IT-revolution in the last two decades, but I do want to point out that there are new developments in the last few years that will change the way we do are business enormously, again.

In the last decade the use of mobile phones and tablets in the consumermarket has grown to gigantic proportions. More and more people in the world are in contact with one another through the use of Social Media and Internet. In my country The Netherlands 95% of the households have access to the internet, 4GHz-band for telecommunication will be available in the whole country in the next two years. More and more data are used and stored in datacenters all over the world. As we, people from the “Stone Age”, use to worry about the storage-amount of our local-pc’s harddiscs, the new young workers in today businesses take the availability of data anywhere at anytime for granted, as just being there! And if the companies not facilitate the access, they bring their own device into the office, forcing companies for data-security-reasons to develop a B.Y.O.D.-information-strategy. This all will have impact in the way information and applications are being used in the near future. Luckely, help is not far away!

With it’s email “The New World of Work” in May, 2005 founder Bill Gates introduced within Microsoft a new vision on work in the near future and the new possibilities for software development. He stated: “This is an important goal not only because the technology has evolved to make it possible, but also because the way we work is changing. Now more than ever, competitive advantage comes from the ability to transform ideas into value -- through process innovation, strategic insights and customized services. We are evolving toward a diverse yet unified global market, with customers, partners and suppliers that work together across cultures and continents. The global workforce is always on and always connected -- requiring new tools to help people organize and prioritize their work and personal lives. Business is becoming more transparent, with a greater need to ensure accountability, security and privacy within and across organizations. And a generation of young people who grew up with the Internet is entering the workforce, bringing along workstyles and technologies that feel as natural to them as pen and paper. All of these changes are giving people new and better ways to work, but they also bring a new set of challenges: a deluge of information, constant demands on their attention, new skills to master and pressure to be ever more productive.”  And: “The software innovations of the 1980s and 1990s, which revolutionized how we create and manipulate information, have created a new set of challenges: finding information, visualizing and understanding it, and taking action. Industry analysts estimate that information workers spend up to 30 percent of their working day just looking for data they need. All the time people spend tracking down information, managing and organizing documents, and making sure their teams have the data they need, could be much better spent on analysis, collaboration, insight and other work that adds value. At Microsoft, we believe that the key to helping businesses become more agile and productive in the global economy is to empower individual workers -- giving them tools that improve efficiency and enable them to focus on the highest-value work. And a new generation of software is an important ingredient in making this happen.”

Bill Gates was one of the first people to address the changing needs of information-workers and it was the start of a new way of softwaredevelopment within Microsoft. In my opinion it changed the way in which softwaredevelopers looked at the use and functionality of their products and gave no doubt a boost to the further development of cloudcomputing. A good example is the spectacular progress Windows Azure has made within the last few years as a new cloudplatform for all kinds of services. In 2010 Visual Studio LightSwitch came as a new tool for developers for rapid application-development for data-driven applications. For me, an excellent step-up from the MS Access programs. At the end of 2012 the new Office 365 has been launched, a cloud-based office solution and closely working together with Office 2013 on a desktop. For the first time we see the focus shifting towards  “how” the use of this cloudservice helps information-workers do their jobs instead of emphasizing on the features of the software-product(s). And it’s not just a new marketing strategy! Sharing information, smarter connecting/meeting people, availability on devices as pc’s, tablets and smartphones , it’s a new approach to supporting the information-worker with the software-technics of today. Office 365 is in my opinion the first step into this new direction and Visual Studio LightSwitch-applications, combined with Windows Azure and with the upcoming support for HTML5, offers a great platform for custom-made-applications in the cloud.

For me, as a solo-entrepreneur in the IT-business, this is all exiting stuff and I’m inspired to change the way I’m doing my business. The only downside: a day has only 24 hours to keep track of all this!

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Anonymous User
# Anonymous User
Tuesday, April 02, 2013 8:20 PM
LightSwitch Community & Content Rollup–March 2013
Paul Patterson
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 4:37 PM
Well said!

I've come through the same sort of coming-of-age in an internet generation. The catalyst for me was the fascination with the opportunity to connect the "world".

My story starts when I bought my first 1200 baud modem to fire up a bulletin board system. It wasn't necessarily the technology that inspired me (which I did love anyway), but the fact that I could somehow connect with others from across the planet, without paying a huge phone bill. Within months I was discovering all that was Telnet, parsing through CERN information, and eventually all that was World Wide Web goodness.

Interesting to hear the stories of others from the same generation - from the other side of the planet.

Cheers :)

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