Steve Jobs: the anti-technocrat

Summary:Steve Jobs put a dent in the enterprise IT universe.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

-Arthur C. Clarke

Magic is something that tech visionary Steve Jobs delivered to us, time and time again. When he launched Apple in the mid-1970s, it was at a time of great disillusionment and distrust with "Big Science" and the market system in general. The future seemed to belong to faceless technocrats -- running monster systems at large, bureaucratic corporations that systematically stamped out new products to cater to every scientifically studied need.

Steve Jobs proved them all wrong. He was the anti-technocrat -- an artist, entrepreneur, dreamer, revolutionary. He shook the business world out of its coma and made business fun. And made technology fun as well.

For those on the enterprise IT side of things, Apple has always been an outside force, producing well-designed and well-tuned machines for the graphic arts set or for tech-shy consumers. But Jobs reshaped the enterprise IT space in profound ways as well.

In the 1980s, he pushed the PC to transition from a techie's hobbycraft into a user-friendly platform. The success of the Mac prompted Microsoft to get Windows out to the market, boosting the client graphical user interface as the interface of choice across enterprises.

In the mobile space, the iPhone and iPad finally brought about the sea change that had been talked and talked and talked about for years, but with little happening. Analysts and pundits and vendors and everyone else talked about how the mobile-phone-as-computer revolution was always just around the corner. The iPhone finally made mobile clients worth thinking about.

While the computer industry is famous for running as a herd from one fad to another, Steve Jobs was never one to buy into conventional wisdom. Consider, for example, the matter of software and hardware. For years, any self-respecting computer industry leader ran away from hardware as fast as he or she could in the belief that software should run on any kind of commodity hardware. Steve Jobs, on the other hand, strongly believed that elegant software needs to go hand in hand with elegant hardware to deliver the most profound user experience. To this day, few in the industry think that way.

Steve Jobs made computing “hip.” He was cool and he has cool visions for using technology to reshape the world in a positive way (putting a “dent in the universe,” as he once put it). The back room  “geeks” of yesteryear became the visionaries, the movers and shakers, of today's world.

In the process, Steve Jobs' vision that technology should be accessible to everyone regardless of technical competence has almost become a reality.

Topics: Emerging Tech, Apple, CXO

About

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. Joe is co-author, along with 16 leading industry leaders and thinkers, of the SOA Manifesto, which outlines the values and guiding principles of service orientation. He speaks frequently on cloud, SOA, data, and... Full Bio

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