How far out do you go?

Architects (software for sure, building also I suspect) often think two and three years out from where they are now. It is often easier to see what is coming, then to determine the what of what you are standing on.
So what is the horizon? I’ve had people tell me that you can’t look beyond 18 months because frankly technology changes so much. But that’s not really true. Technology in and of itself always reveals what is next, in what we are using right now. Television has advanced to the point where DVR’s (which were high end items five years ago) are now common place.
Taking the known (DVR) technology and pushing that out two years from now, what would the next generation DVR look like?
1. Cheaper (advertisers pay a portion of the cost of the DVR – so that you can’t actually fast forward through the ads).
2. Easier interface that you can control remotely (like Slingboxes today).
3. DVR only events (again advertisers provide this as a service)
But is two years enough? Today there are devices that can act as portal DVR’s (you can use them to record tv in your home, and take them with you on the road as well).
By focusing only on the DVR we limit the view of what might be coming. If we broaden the view we can take the opportunity to stretch out to see what might be around the corner.
DVR’s as a function of the telelvision (integrated).
Live TV dying. Direct broadcast to internet sites that you then download and watch when you can. Beyond on demand!
While this discussion was just me playing with what might be, it still brings up the topic of how and what of viewing the future. Its what Archtiect’s do (software) at least the good ones do. There are many architects down in the weeds of operation and other specific specialities that lose the ability quickly to see where things are heading.
But it is a core concept, build on the known. But always look to the future.

3 thoughts on “How far out do you go?

  1. Having been on the MIS team, I have kind of a unique perspective on this…
    I think that the thing that you *can* look at on a 3 year horizon is business needs.  What are the problems that need solving, and how can we use the current technology towards solving those needs, and then improve the current technology to solve the needs better.  At that point, you\’re not trying to look at a 3 year technology horizon, because hey, technology changes all the time, right? But you\’re looking at a problem space horizon, which is a little different.
    Then there is the case like MIS, where someone comes up with a new technology and then someone else has to go drum up a business need for it.  That\’s the stuff that\’s harder to predict, and that\’s the stuff that I think people are thinking of when they say, "You can\’t look past 18 months!  Everything could change by then!"  But I think it\’s a slightly different type of entity.
    Sorry if I\’m babbling.

  2. I think three years is fair. My concern is that we take too short of a view (12 to 18 months) and then wonder why things pass us by. I would like to see a balenced approach where we cover this from both perspectives.

  3. I think that what we\’ve been drastically guilty of in the past is… planning the solution that can be implemented in the timeframe we have available rather than planning the right solution and figuring out what steps we can take down that road in the time we have available.
    I think that even in the cases where we\’ve tried to take the larger view, the fact that that\’s what was happening wasn\’t well communicated, so the team (in this particular case) got really excited about getting to work on the "right" solution and then disheartened by watching it get slashed to pieces.  Now I have no idea if the work we did for 12 is at all making it into 14 planning, since, you know, it was so long ago and all.  Must have been like 2-3 years…

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