So for the past four days I have been surrounded by the Microsoft corporate IT world. I find some of the social dynamics very interesting and how different this ecosystem is compared to other technology groups. For example I see very little social media going on. That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening but I just am not seeing it at the same level as I see at events like BarCamp. People here are also much more tied to notebooks and the desktop than at other conventions I have attended. I had a discussion about this with a friend and business partner last night and we came up with a couple of reasons for the dichotomy.
1. The types of applications that this conference is about are fundamentally different than the hip cloud computing applications used by the consumer market. Here we are talking about applications that general start in the $50,000 range and commonly have six figure implementation budgets. We’re not talking about MovableType installations running on $15.00 a month hosting packages but cluster SQL Server farms that run the entire business process of multi-million dollar companies. These applications have to be able to handle governmental security, HIPAA regulations, multi-jurisdiction tax accounting and a wealth of other very specific needs. That is not to say other technologies are of lesser value. They aren’t, they are just of different use and value. Much of the web tools I see here are miles behind much of the open source software that I am using for this website. The point is that these technologies require and retain a different type of technology professional.
2. The other kind of reason we came up with for what seems to be a lack of Gen Y and younger professionals at this particular conference is that a company isn’t sending the newly hired intern to a $1500 plus expenses conference. The people I seem to be talking to here are the CIOs, the IT managers, the power users, and other upper management execs. This means they are generally older and came up in the Client-Server era of computing. They, not unlike me, are more comfortable working from their notebook than their phones. That being said, it is still quite obvious even here that Apple is taking over the phone market. The iPhone is easily the most seen and used phone that I have encounters. However, I would only say that every third person has one. There are plenty of Blackberries, Windows Mobile phones, and other makes floating around. This is really different than when I am around younger geeks where iPhone penetration is almost 100%. Ultimately, age seems to be a very important component of who is here, what technologies they use, and how they use it.
As I walk around the convention floor I have not seen one Twitter window open even though I know it is being used. I have not heard one person other than myself mention the service but I certainly believe much of the texting I see is tweeting. I think, however, that cloud computing is still slow to seep into the corporate IT world. Some might say this proves companies like Microsoft are on the down slide. I don’t think this is the case at all. At least in this case the market just has different needs and different expectations. No cloud service can ever replace corporate ERP systems like Dynamics or Oracle. They can certainly be become integral parts of a business but again different needs require different solutions. What I think will be interesting to watch is the integration of two different technology mindsets as the cloud computing generation fully enters the corporate world.
I expect to see amazing things.