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‘Things to Come’: Our new series explores how cloud computing will transform business

Welcome to “Things to Come,” our new monthly column on the evolution of business computing. I’m Barry Briggs, and I’ll be your guide.

What an exciting time it is for enterprise computing. Technology changes at an almost dizzying rate, opening new opportunities for businesses in so many different areas. In just half a decade, the cloud has gone from a curiosity to the preferred destination for many mission-critical enterprise workloads; today’s mobile devices have more power than the computers that took people to the moon; and machine learning, analytics and artificial intelligence promise responsive computers that can extract new insights from the vast amounts of data we’re now able to collect and store.

So what’s next?

That’s exactly the question I’ll attempt to answer each month in this series.

Our goal is to look around the corner to see what’s coming and to illuminate how emerging technologies – from bots and quantum computing to new frontiers in artificial intelligence and genomics – will yet again change, and perhaps even revolutionize, both the way business is conducted and the way we live. Along the way, we’ll chat with early adopters, trailblazers and trendsetters, some of whom are already trying these new technologies, and others who are envisioning the new world these technologies will create.

A little background on me: I’ve been in the software industry for nearly 40 years. I began programming on a Univac mainframe at NASA, and worked for a number of years on Lotus’ spreadsheet program, 1-2-3 – at the time, one of the world’s most popular applications. Then I worked at Microsoft for a dozen years in a number of capacities, including as CTO for the company’s own IT organization, where I helped lead Microsoft’s transition to the cloud (my colleague Eduardo Kassner and I captured our experiences in our book, “Enterprise Cloud Strategy“).

My experience has left me forever fascinated by how software changes our lives. Here’s an example: Not so long ago, if you wanted to make an international phone call, you had to call an operator and ask to reserve a line, and then wait for a call back. And such calls were very expensive – so while you were talking, you watched the clock. Today, when I travel, I can connect with my kids on Facebook – from the plane – and when I arrive at my destination, I can participate in meetings and call home on Skype – all for free. And I don’t need to know anything about the code that makes it all hum! With the click of a mouse, I can communicate with anyone, anywhere.

And that’s just one of the ways that computing has utterly transformed our professional and personal lives. There are dozens more, and we’ll explore them each month in this column, starting next month with the fascinating new world of conversational interfaces, better known as “bots,” and how they have the potential to vastly improve how your customers interact with you.

By the way, if you’re wondering about the title of our series, “Things to Come,” it’s from a 1933 H.G. Wells novella. Considering how much of what we’re seeing in technology would have been science fiction only a decade ago, it seemed appropriate.

Stay tuned for our journey!

Top photo: The author, who approaches both travel and technology with unbridled enthusiasm, at Petra in southern Jordan.