Research Library
Monthly Research
& Market Commentary

Our Research Agenda 2019

The theme of the LEF’s research in 2019 will be Modeling Your Digital Future.  Through a series of projects and events, we will identify and assess emerging: economic and governmental models, network business models, financial models for IT systems and activity, organizational and architectural models, and, perhaps most importantly, the associated mental, cultural and leadership models. The goal is to give you and your organization a comprehensive way to perceive and pursue a 21st century future.

Within business, IT and even at the level of nation state there currently exists a complex debate on culture, structure, manipulation and control. We wish to become more digital but do we have the the right culture for this? What do we mean by culture and what is right anyway? Does it depend on structure? Do we just need to adopt agile and become more Spotify like? Because despite the hallowed business press even Spotify admits it doesn’t operate like Spotify is supposed to and how it does operate it isn’t very agile.

On top of this we have new business models to contend with. Should we build a platform? Where? What sort? Do we need to create an ecosystem? What is an ecosystem? How do we manage and control it? Do we need to? Should we be directing or more like the gardener? What do we even mean by this?

But it’s ok, at least we’re all going hybrid and more decentralised! Or at least, we’re all being told we’re going hybrid despite data centre spending declining, public cloud’s roaring growth and CIOs declaring they’re getting rid of data centres. But serverless is a fad unless you talk to people who say it isn’t. There seems to be more fake news in IT than there is in real politics.

On that note should I worry about China, or is the US growing in strength? What about India? Who can I learn from? Where are the new challenges coming from and who do I listen to and what should I adopt? If the hallowed business press can’t even get something as simple as agile and Spotify right, then who is right? Is anyone? Maybe I should just blockchain everything, that seems popular. Hopefully AI will sort things out, at least it can solve cancer or apparently it can’t.

Anyway, none of this stuff matters as I've got the company to take care of. Except, everything around me is changing. Companies like Amazon are branching into new fields - call centres? I didn't know they did call centres? Healthcare? They've even appointed people to look into Government systems! I thought this was a bookseller? Maybe we should adopt their culture?

Or maybe we shouldn’t control it? Maybe the key is letting go? We should just adopt common services from cloud providers and become that organisation that glues together common building blocks as per the serverless world? What if something goes wrong? Shouldn’t we build it ourselves in order to avoid this situation and maintain some semblance of responsibility? What do we mean by terms like control and responsibility anyway? Even in the world of Android where a vast market competes providing mobile phones, they have all surrendered control and responsibility for future direction to Google. Maybe we should do the same with cloud and surrender control to Amazon? But what about lock-in? Except, we’re already being locked in to the Android ecosystem, to the open source world - is this any different? Why does it matter?

In the bewildering and dazzling world of technology, you can be forgiven for feeling lost. The onslaught of terminology from cloud, usability, open source, participation architecture, social networks, web services, mashups, webOS, SOA, RSS, REST, AJAX ... wait, AJAX? This was 2007. Are we just on another merry-go-round of buzzwords? Is this behind all the confusion? Vendor self-interest and a confusion of choice?

The theme of this year’s LEF research is to take stock and look at signals in the noise from new economic models of thinking. Whether networked business models, digital leadership, financial models for IT systems, the changing role of the tech architect, what culture is right for you, competition from east to west and how to create space and manage all of this?

Download the pdf to learn more about the research topics for 2019.


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Research Commentary

PDF (190.9 KB)


Simon Wardley
Simon Wardley, based in the UK, is a Researcher for Leading Edge Forum and the lead practitioner for Wardley Maps advisory service helping clients anticipate market and ecosystem developments. Simon’s focus is on the intersection of IT strategy and new technologies, and he is the author of multiple reports including Clash of the Titans – Will China Dethrone Silicon Valley?  where he assesses the hi-tech challenge from China and what this means to the future of global technology industry competition. His previous research covers topics including Of Wonders and Disruption,  The Future is More Predictable Than You Think - A Workbook for Value Chain Mapping, Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts: Strategies for an Increasingly Open Economy, Learning from Web 2.0 and A Lifecycle Approach to Cloud Computing. Simon is a seasoned executive who has spent the last 15 years defining future IT strategies for companies in the FMCG, Retail and IT industries.  From Canon’s early leadership in the cloud computing space in 2005 to Ubuntu’s recent dominance as the #1 Cloud operating system. As a geneticist with a love of mathematics and a fascination in economics, Simon has always found himself dealing with complex systems, whether it’s in behavioural patterns, environmental risks of chemical pollution, developing novel computer systems or managing companies.  He is a passionate advocate and researcher in the fields of open source, commoditization, innovation, organizational structure and cybernetics. Simon is a regular presenter at conferences worldwide, and has been voted as one of the UK's top 50 most influential people in IT in recent Computer Weekly polls.    


21st Century
Adaptive Execution
Proactive, Haptic Sensing
Reimagining the Portfolio
Value Centric Leadership


The Counter-Industrial Revolution
19 Feb 2019 / By David Rimmer
How far along is the success of the Distributed Ledger and DApps?
23 Jan 2019 / By Krzysztof (Chris) Daniel
2019: The Year of Digital Decisions
15 Jan 2019 / By Richard Davies
Defending Digital
12 Dec 2018 / By David Moschella
Our Research Agenda 2019
30 Nov 2018 / By Simon Wardley, David Reid