The number one priority question all businesses need to ask is: “What does de-materialization mean to my industry and my business?”
“What are the threats and what are the opportunities?” De-materialization is the process of separating physical delivery from core value, and transforming core value into digital re-creation. A simple example of de-materialization is the newspaper industry: physical delivery is the paper, but news is the core value. However, many newspapers forgot this, and believed the news on paper was the core value. Physical delivery can never compete with digital elegance. Since digital form need only be defined just before usage, mass scale customization is possible, the audience becomes part of the experience, and production has zero waste. This is obvious when explained, but very hard to execute for most companies, even so (as the current turmoil in the newspaper industry amply illustrates).
All industries can now provide examples of de-materializations from one perspective or another, even the industry that is powering the de-materialization: the ICT industry. Traditional data centers consist of racks and racks of servers. All servers contain different configurations of compute, network, and storage, depending on the jobs they are purchased for. Utilization of servers is appallingly low, quite often in the 20% range. This is the equivalent of throwing away unread newspapers. Public hyperscale cloud providers such Google and Amazon do not do this. They buy banks of compute, network, and storage and raw utilities, then configure them on demand for use. We call this software-defined hardware. Working with Intel Rack Scale architecture, we are making this capability available to everyone.
So we are de-materializing the de-materializers, and even the servers don’t exist anymore…