I’m an aged sort of a chap. As such I have somewhat traditional views about how to achieve things. Take for example the building of financial freedom for an individual. My perspective is that this is done over time – by building a good foundation, making calculated choices, smoothing the inevitable peaks and troughs and the like. This is counter to the get rich quick approach which sees people jump on the next big thing (bitcoin, anyone?)

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, is credited with saying that “most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” It’s a wise saying and seems to hold true no matter what context it is used within. If we’re talking about creating a high-performance team, changing the culture of an organisation or changing the way a society thinks, while individual inflection points are certainly a thing, change over a longer timescale is where the magic really happens.

Gates is a smart guy and often I find myself in situations where I become frustrated by a lack of progress, only to take a step back and look at progress through a longer timeframe and wonder at how far we have, in fact, come.

I was thinking about this longer term perspective recently while I was sitting in a board meeting. The organisation in question, like most organisations out there, is grappling with an existing technology paradigm. Like all organisations, technology (specifically software) powers the backend processes of the organisation and the modernisation of that software is part of the key to unlocking growth, progress, customer centricity and everything a good business wants to achieve.

I listened in at the board meeting while the leadership team and the board discussed technology priorities. One of these priorities included moving from an on-premises model to SaaS model of software delivery. My heart skipped a beat and I had to pinch myself as it became apparent just how far we have come in 15 or so years.

You see, back around 2006, when Salesforce.com and Amazon Web Services were simply tiny, nascent technology companies, and Xero was the merest glimmer in the eye of co-founder Rod Drury, I decided on a bit of a career change. That saw me become a technology industry analyst, a vague sort of a role that sees an individual spend their working life observing what is happening with both vendors and customers of technology. My particular focus was Cloud Computing. Back in those days, and this is no exaggeration, only a tiny number of people actually had any kind of an idea of what cloud computing is. Notions like this were utterly foreign within the board room, generally misunderstood in technology departments and totally off the radar for consumers.

But like that Bill Gates quote says, fast forward a tad more than a decade and people are totally relaxed about sharing photos in the cloud, collaborating on documents in the cloud, and leveraging software delivered from the cloud to the browser on their desktop, laptop or mobile device. We’ve truly come far.

Now I would not for a nanosecond suggest that I was, back then, prescient. I simply, as is my style, lurched from one random “career” down another pathway in order to investigate something interesting. There was no calculus to my choice, it was simply, to quote the Robert Frost words, a case that:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

Anyway, the reason for this article isn’t to reflect on anything I’ve done, but rather to express amazement at what a revolution cloud computing has been to the world and to offer up some kudos to those who foresaw this change. People like Amazon Web Services creator Andy Jassy, or Salesfroce.com founder Mark Benioff – they’re the prescient ones.

To recognise how far we’ve come, I thought I’d dig out a video I made a decade or so ago, back when cloud was still a little known let alone used term. It’s almost quaint to think that once upon a time some random Kiwi had to make a video to explain what cloud computing was.

Ben Kepes is a Canterbury-based entrepreneur and professional board member. He’s all about the cloud.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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