To define a long term strategy, we have to predict the future. To predict the future we have to understand the past. The longer we look back, the better we can look forward.
Everything is determinated by cycles. A well know cycle is the Kondratiev. This is the cycle of Innovation. Its cycles-time is about 53 years.
Fifty years ago a new innovation in computing was emerging, the IBM 360. The 360, the All Purpose Computer, became a standard in computing.
A hundred years ago the big factories of Ford and Taylor were dominating the world. It is not difficult to see that the IBM 360 was the next step in the ideal of Taylor to produce a fully mechanized production-facility.
Funny enough the most important innovation of our time, The Internet, can be seen as an IBM 360 where the connectors between the processors (now called servers) are far away.
The capacity of the current network, transporting the standardized (XML-)messages from server to server is so enormous that is it almost possible to work real-time.
Does this mean that the next step of Innovation will be one central operating system that is controlling the Internet?
To find out what will happen we have to look at a new long term cycle, the cycle of Culture. Its periodicity is about 250 years. 250 years ago we are in the time of the French Revolution.
The bourgeoisie (the new entrepreneurs) hated the decadent Kings and the people took over the Power (Liberté, Égalité, and Fraternité). In the end the Centralized State, its centralized institutions, and finally the Centralized Companies were created. At this moment we are in a comparable situation.
The Central State en the big companies are, just like the Kings in the 18th Century, loosing their power. The People, now called customers, are looking for an alternative.
The big Companies are showing ‘decadent” behavior. They are wasting valuable resources ((tax) money) and are delivering a low quality of service. The customers (and the citizens) are highly dissatisfied. If nothing is done the possibility of a new Revolution is not zero.
In software, we see the rising of the Open-Source Movement. It is a rebellion against the power of the big software companies (especially Microsoft). We are in a time of reconstruction and it will take many years before the new stable infrastructure will arise (called Web 2.0).
Of course Google will be a certain winner. It will be one of the major worldwide Powers of IT for a long time. They are centralizing the Internet.
If we look for the short term we can use the Juglar cycle (10 years). This cycle predicts a movement from Individuality (I do it Myself) to the Collective (Let’s do it together).
Collaboration will be a major issue the next ten years. Google is utilizing this trend by buying many companies that are offering “sharing services”.
The interesting question is Will Google win or will the Open Source Movement win?
My intuition tells it will be the last one. The Open Source Movement is much more flexible in their response. Google is rich and will become richer. The Open Source Movement is not based on money but on enthusiasm (Spirit) and E-motivation (Soul) and a very important point Craftsmanship. These are things you cannot buy.