There are a lot of superlative phrases describing the new forces shaping information technology, such as: the third platform; the digital enterprise; shadow IT; the new IT. So what exactly is this “new IT”?  And, most importantly, what difference does it make to the insurance business?

One can be forgiven for thinking that there are few “old IT” sites left amidst all these revolutionary forces. But many insurance companies still run mainframes and manage other legacy assets. In many discussions I have had with many IT executives in recent months and years, it’s clear that many continue to still have the same tasks and challenges that their forebears in the 1990s were addressing: managing budgets; deciding whether to build or buy; stitching together various applications and systems to address new problems; worrying about processing scalability and storage capacity.

Still, things have changed. So how do we separate the hype from what’s happening on the ground? Bob Dvorak tackled this question in a recent issue of Wired. He says there clearly is a delineation between the old and the new: “The old IT operating model focused on sustainable competitive advantages. The new IT operating model employs transient competitive advantages that depend on agility — the ability to jump into a window of opportunity, seize the market and deftly move onto the next opportunity.” In other words, the old stuff is fairly rigid and difficult to change; the new stuff can be swapped in and out at the moment it’s needed.

If one were to look at a time when the shift began, 1994 would be that time. That’s when the Internet and the World Wide Web began to capture the world’s imagination, with the first crude web pages. With this in mind, here are some of the distinctions between what was “hot” in the IT we knew in 1994, and the IT of today:

1994: Client/server

2014: Client/cloud

1994: Floppy disks

2014: Software as a service

1994: RAID arrays

2014: Storage as a Service

1994: Relational databases

2014: Data as a Service

1994: Recovery time objective – two days

2014: Recovery time objective – two seconds

1994: PCs running Windows

2014: Devices running browsers and apps (which still include PCs)

1994: Online analytical processing (business intelligence)

2014: Ambient analytics

1994: Big data – a terabyte

2014: Big data – an exabyte

1994: Bulletin boards

2014: Social media

1994: Apple on the ropes

2014: Apple everywhere

1994: America Online

2014: The world online

1994: Overworked and understaffed IT departments

2014: Overworked and understaffed IT departments (okay, some things never change)


Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

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This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

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