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Victor Anderson

November 2012: I Love the Smell of Irony in the Morning

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Victor doesn't like change, but acknowledges it is a constant, so as the capital markets evolve, so, too, must technology.

One of the things we gain as we get older is our appreciation of irony and the ability to laugh at ourselves. Irony, especially when it pertains to ourselves when we’re young, tends either to go unrecognized or we find it distinctly unfunny, mostly because, as callow youths, we take ourselves far too seriously. But that changes in tandem with our thinning hair and expanding waistlines, which is why I can now appreciate the irony of last month’s editor’s letter.

In it, I wrote about the considerable challenges facing CIOs when it comes to replacing legacy systems/applications within their organizations. “There’s nothing ironic about that,” I hear you say. And you’re right—those challenges can be some of the most vexing for all CIOs, regardless of their levels of experience, technical know-how, the quality of the technology team surrounding them, and the health of the company coffers.

The irony of last month’s letter is that like CIOs, Waters’ world is undergoing similar changes, and anyone who knows me just a little bit will know how much I dislike change … unless, of course, it is I effecting that change. Call me cantankerous, inflexible, a control freak, or even a Luddite, and you won’t get much of an argument from me—I just plain don’t like change. But for more than a decade now, the writing has been on the wall for the publishing industry in the sense anyone with a bit of nous has known intuitively that readers’ information consumption habits were set to change. As it transpired, that change took a lot longer than many had anticipated, but I can now declare with absolute certainty that we are way past that tipping point, and our readers now expect far more than pretty pictures and words on a page, published monthly.

The change that has come about in the publishing industry can be used as a proxy for the capital markets in terms of the way organizations consume their technology. Long gone are the days where firms were forced down the proprietary route due to the lack of suitable alternatives on offer from the handful of fledgling third-party providers. Proprietary technology development was supplanted as the default provision model by in-house deployments a decade ago, which, in turn has been eclipsed by the application service provider (ASP)/cloud model for large numbers of buy-side and sell-side firms looking to simultaneously shrink their fixed operating costs while reducing their time to market. And, like in the publishing industry, this new dispensation is still gathering steam, which means that technology consumers and providers alike are set for more change. And, if like me, those CIOs aren’t overly smitten at the prospect of all this transformation, at least it’ll keep them on their toes.

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