|By Michael Bushong||
|January 28, 2014 11:00 AM EST||
We are a few short days away from the biggest spectacle in sports – the Super Bowl. It is impossible to avoid talk this week of Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos, the Seattle Seahawks, and the NFL in general. But does the NFL have anything to teach tech industries?
The NFL is a massively successful franchise by almost any measure. Despite a rash of recent scandals including a pay-for-injury bounty program and a major law suit and settlement tied to concussions, the league continues to grow its fan base – both in the US and abroad – while raking in record numbers of viewers and revenue. At the heart of the NFL’s resilience when it comes to scandal and its seemingly bottomless pit of revenues is an uncanny to reinvent itself.
In fact, it is the NFL’s overall position on its own evolution that has secured its place at the top of the entertainment pantheon.
Instant Replay in the NFL
The NFL adopted instant replay in 1986 after a fairly healthy debate. Detractors would point out that part of the history of the NFL was that the game was officiated by humans, complete with their flaws. Games had been decided in the past by a team of officials who had to get it right in the moment, and changing that would somehow alter the NFL’s traditions. But it took only a few high-profile officiating mishaps played back on national television to sway sentiment, and in 1986, by a vote of 23 to 4 (with one abstaining), the NFL ushered instant replay into the league.
But instant replay’s first stint in the NFL lasted only until 1992. In its first incarnation, instant replay ranged from effective to wildly unpopular. The rules for which plays could be reviewed was not always clear. The process was slow and at times awkward, making games take too long. And the original incarnation of instant replay allowed officials to review their own calls, which led to somewhat maddening outcomes.
Instant replay went dark until making its triumphant return in 1999. With a few process tweaks (coaches being able to challenge specific calls) and the advance of technology (HD and more angles), the system is clearly here to stay.
But what is so important about how the NFL rolled out instant replay? And how does this apply to networking?
Instant Replay and Networking
First, it is worth noting that instant replay was not a unanimous choice. There were detractors – members of the Old Guard who thought that the new way of doing business was too big a departure from the past. In networking, we face much of the same. There are countless people who fight change at every step because it is not consistent with the old way of doing things. They cling to their technological religion while the rest of the world moves forward. It’s not that their experiences are not not relevant or even not important, but their inability to work alongside the disruptors means that those experiences are kept private, forcing the New Guard to stumble over many of the same obstacles. This is not good for anyone.
Second, we should all realize that instant replay was tried and it failed. But despite the failure, the NFL was able to bring it back to the great benefit of the game. As the SDN revolution wages on, there are people who point to the past. They say clever things like “All that is old is new again” or they refer derisively to past attempts the industry has made to solve some of the same problems being addressed by SDN today.
But if ideas were permanently shelved because of setback or failure, where would we be? Using the past as a compass for the future is helpful; clinging to the past and using it to justify a refusal to move forward is destructive.
And finally, the NFL has shown a remarkable ability to iterate on its ideas. Instant replay was successful in its second run because of the changes the NFL made. New technology will not be invented with perfect foresight. The initial ideas might not even be as important as the iterative adjustments. We need to embrace failure and use it to adapt and overcome. By not being religious about its history, the NFL has successfully evolved. The question for networking specialists everywhere is to what extent our own industry is capable of setting aside its sacred cows.
Rushing, West Coast Offense, Hurry-Up Offense
Football is remarkable in how much it changes over time. Decades ago, offense was all about having a good running back. The passing game was an afterthought, used to lure defenders away from the line of scrimmage. Those days yielded to a more pass-happy time featuring the San Diego Chargers’ Air Coryell offense and the Houston Oilers Run and Shoot. Those teams handed the offensive mantle over to Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense. Then we saw New Orleans’ more vertical passing attack. And now we have the whole hurry-up offense.
It almost doesn’t matter what is different between these systems. That so many systems have been able to thrive is what is amazing. The NFL, despite its traditions, seems most committed to reinventing itself. And for every one of these offensive systems, there are a dozen others that failed to catch on.
Evolution and Networking
The NFL has figured out that they are a league that thrives on new ideas. Whether its the NFL as a whole, or individual teams and players, the entire league is committed to trying new things. That commitment has created a hyper-fertile breeding ground for new ideas. It is no surprise that the league has managed to reinvent itself every few years, much to the delight of its legions of fans.
Networking is going through an interesting time. This period of 3-4 years might very well be looked on as a Golden Era for networking. The amount of new ideas that are being tested in the marketplace right now is amazing. SDN, NFV, DevOps, Photonic Switching, Sensor Networking, Network Virtualization… and the list goes on. But these new ideas came on the heels of what really were the Dark Ages. After the Dot.com bust, the networking world went dark. Sure, there were new knobs and doodads that were useful for folks, but as an industry, the innovation was pretty incremental.
So when this Golden Era of Networking is over, which networking industry will we have? Will we return to the Dark Ages, or will we end up in another Period of Enlightenment? If the NFL is any indication of what continuous innovation looks like, it would seem the better answer is to embrace the new ideas. But are we culturally prepared to continue embracing disruption? Are we collectively unafraid of failure enough that this type of future suits us? If you ask me, we have to be.
Defense Wins Championships
There is an old saw that goes “Defense wins championships.” At this time of year, it gets trotted out as one of those universal truths. But here’s the reality: evolution wins championships. In the NFL, offenses and defenses win about the same amount (a slight nod to defenses, but only by a hair). It’s a team’s ability to evolve over the years – and even during the game – that dictates success.
Our industry is no different. We have our own Old Guard that talks about past technologies with the kind of reverence that you see when historians put on their smoking jackets and grab their pipes. But our industry is defined by its future more than its past. There is a lot to learn from our history, but if we let those teachings get in the way of our future, we will be no better off than we are now.
So when you are grabbing a beer or diving into that 7-layer dip at whatever Super Bowl party you end up at, talk about the role of innovation and how it reigns supreme over those dusty old defenses.
[Today's fun fact: Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down, hence the expression "To get fired." I wonder where the term "lay off" came from then?]
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Aug. 31, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 363
The Internet of Things is in the early stages of mainstream deployment but it promises to unlock value and rapidly transform how organizations manage, operationalize, and monetize their assets. IoT is a complex structure of hardware, sensors, applications, analytics and devices that need to be able to communicate geographically and across all functions. Once the data is collected from numerous endpoints, the challenge then becomes converting it into actionable insight.
Aug. 31, 2015 07:00 PM EDT
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Treloar, President and COO of Bebaio, will explore examples of brands transforming their businesses by t...
Aug. 31, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 243
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts, GM of Platform at FinancialForce.com, will discuss the value of business applications on wearable ...
Aug. 31, 2015 03:15 PM EDT
While many app developers are comfortable building apps for the smartphone, there is a whole new world out there. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Narayan Sainaney, Co-founder and CTO of Mojio, will discuss how the business case for connected car apps is growing and, with open platform companies having already done the heavy lifting, there really is no barrier to entry.
Aug. 31, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 141
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and analyzed? As an area of investment, how might a retail company move towards an innovation methodolo...
Aug. 31, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 456
The Internet of Things (IoT) is about the digitization of physical assets including sensors, devices, machines, gateways, and the network. It creates possibilities for significant value creation and new revenue generating business models via data democratization and ubiquitous analytics across IoT networks. The explosion of data in all forms in IoT requires a more robust and broader lens in order to enable smarter timely actions and better outcomes. Business operations become the key driver of IoT applications and projects. Business operations, IT, and data scientists need advanced analytics t...
Aug. 31, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 416
Contrary to mainstream media attention, the multiple possibilities of how consumer IoT will transform our everyday lives aren’t the only angle of this headline-gaining trend. There’s a huge opportunity for “industrial IoT” and “Smart Cities” to impact the world in the same capacity – especially during critical situations. For example, a community water dam that needs to release water can leverage embedded critical communications logic to alert the appropriate individuals, on the right device, as soon as they are needed to take action.
Aug. 31, 2015 12:00 PM EDT
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Aug. 31, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 895
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...
Aug. 31, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 228
As more intelligent IoT applications shift into gear, they’re merging into the ever-increasing traffic flow of the Internet. It won’t be long before we experience bottlenecks, as IoT traffic peaks during rush hours. Organizations that are unprepared will find themselves by the side of the road unable to cross back into the fast lane. As billions of new devices begin to communicate and exchange data – will your infrastructure be scalable enough to handle this new interconnected world?
Aug. 31, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 161
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
Aug. 31, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 655
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevOps to advance innovation and increase agility. Specializing in designing, imple...
Aug. 31, 2015 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 304
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, a producer of the first smartphones and tablets, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. He will explain how M2M controllers work through wirelessly connected remote controls; and specifically delve into a retrofit option that reverse-engineers control codes of existing conventional controller systems so they don't have to be replaced and are instantly converted to become smart, connected devices.
Aug. 31, 2015 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 124
SYS-CON Events announced today that IceWarp will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IceWarp, the leader of cloud and on-premise messaging, delivers secured email, chat, documents, conferencing and collaboration to today's mobile workforce, all in one unified interface
Aug. 31, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 422
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Aug. 31, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 453
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
Aug. 28, 2015 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 219
Akana has announced the availability of the new Akana Healthcare Solution. The API-driven solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate their transition to being secure, digitally interoperable businesses. It leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) standard to enable broader business use of medical data. Akana developed the Healthcare Solution in response to healthcare businesses that want to increase electronic, multi-device access to health records while reducing operating costs and complying with government regulations.
Aug. 26, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 192
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
Aug. 2, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 556
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Aug. 1, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 486