Driving Communism Out of IT with Cloud Computing - Page 2
Blue Jeans, the Fall of Communism and the Reform of IT
Although it may seem an oversimplification, communism began to crumble when Russian youth began rebelling against the system through their choice of music and clothing. Rather than giving over to mediocrity and homogenization, the kids wanted to express their individuality by listening to their own type of music—rock and roll—and wearing fashionable blue jeans. Because the type and variety of jeans that they wanted weren’t available in government-sanctioned outlets, they got them on the black market, where clothes had been smuggled in from Western countries. At one point, buying jeans on the black market was actually a punishable offense in Russia. The government perceived it as undermining the Russian culture and economy. That didn’t stop people from buying them, though. They were willing to spend exorbitantly and sacrifice the ability to purchase other goods, for the chance to obtain the clothes they wanted, when they wanted them.
China tried to avoid the Eastern Bloc’s predicament. Understanding the implications of what was happening in Russia, the Chinese government mandated that citizens wear uniforms so that everyone would look the same—and the concept of individualism would not be able to take root. But the cat was out of the bag, and now, ironically, China is one of the world’s most fashion-conscious countries and clothing production drives a large part of its economy.
Just as the yearning for individualism through fashion and music changed communist economies and culture, the consumerization of IT is changing enterprises.
In the Western world, not only are we used to timely, individualized products and services, with the way technology has changed our everyday lives, we have come to expect it. Thanks to advances in automobile manufacturing technology, for instance, we can choose the cars we buy based on a variety of factors, from how we’ll use them (commuting, carpooling kids to sports games and dance recitals, hauling goods from Home Depot), to what colors and fabrics we prefer, to how much fuel we’re willing to consume and how much we’re willing to spend on perks. And thanks to advances in information technology and automation, we can shop online for almost anything we need. We buy computers at Dell.com, where we can configure and customize to our heart’s content. If we don’t find what we want from supplier A, we’ll get it from supplier B or C or even Z. It’s a market economy, we accept that if we want something and are willing to pay for it, we can get it. We’ll pay a premium for overnight delivery of books, furniture, clothes, appliances, gadgets—you name it—if we really want them right away. And we don’t feel the need to rely on someone else to facilitate our consumption; in fact, we don’t want to waste the time. We book our own flights, use the self-checkouts at supermarkets, and frequent ATMs instead of bank tellers.