In IT departments all over the globe there has been a lot of talk about a third platform, and how to stay afloat with all these new changes to how data is produced, consumed and managed.

Photo Credit: pakorn at
Photo Credit: pakorn at

For the uninitiated, the third platform — as defined by IDC — is an amalgam of cloud computing, big data, social networking technology and mobile computing. It’s the next logical step in IT infrastructure, an evolution from the client-server model.

As this idea becomes more uniform in IT, questions are circling about how today’s businesses can implement this new platform. What tools are required to operate in the third platform efficiently? Will new ones have to be created? What can be reused from the existing infrastructure? Many of the questions are specific to an industry or company, but there are some general ways businesses can deal with them.

Tips for staying competitive with the third platform

  • Get specific – Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions are going to see a major boom in the years ahead. This means that more companies will be building application platforms to meet the needs of their industry. This also means that companies will need to start building these industry-specific application platforms soon to keep up with the rapid pace of PaaS solutions all across the board. Don’t wait for that magical PaaS solution to come to you. Hire the talent and build it yourself.
  • Understand the data market – Understand what’s going on in the third platform space. Keep tabs on how much money companies are spending, and what they’re spending it on. Are your competitors dumping millions of dollars into big data analytics? Or are they investing their resources into powerful mobile platforms powered by the cloud? Then you’ll need to figure out why those investments are being made. Sure, there are trends that will continue all across the IT and data management industries, but things will continue to shape and change your specific industry in ways that other industries may or may not be affected. The key to staying competitive is to pay attention to these trends and how they’re shaping your industry.
  • Build an IT infrastructure to support the third platform – Data is getting bigger every day and cloud resources are getting more complex. A big part of staying competitive in this new age of data management and deployment is having a solid infrastructure to support this new technology. Many companies are turning to trusted open-source IaaS providers like Rackspace to get the job done. However you decide to build your IT infrastructure, be sure it can handle the needs of big data and has the resources to manage sophisticated social, and cloud-powered data.

This is the time of year where IT pros gather to make predictions for the coming year. These predictions range from changes in data management technology to the types of information technologies will become obsolete. By the end of the year some predictions may come true, and others fall flat on their face. Still, the truth is that the third platform is coming, and companies of all sizes need to be prepared for the changes.