A 20-year-old entering the workforce or becoming a customer of your organisation is unlikely to have heard of Y2K. Yet I suspect for almost all of us, it was a significant chapter in our working lives.

At seven, as my daughter is now, century date change issues in enterprise computing systems are not that interesting. In time today's school children may learn about Y2K, but it will mean no more to them than gas lighting or the Cuban missile crisis did to us in our school days.

The struggles of High Street staples like HMV and Blockbusters is in large part because the service they offer is no longer relevant to our 20-year-old. At 20 you are at your musical and cultural consumption peak, standing in the middle of the strongest currents and sampling everything new and old that is swept down to you. But whereas when we weren't thinking about Y2K we were buying CDs and renting DVDs, today's 20-year-old is in the middle of an online cultural stream. 

But the demise of Blockbuster and HMV shouldn't be misunderstood. A well-done multi-channel retail offering is welcomed by consumers and retail, like music and video, is transitioning into a digital existence. Global sales for Amazon over Christmas 2012, for example, were up 20 per cent. 


But it's not just retail: we have seen recent poor performances from Sony, Yahoo, HP, Nokia and Kodak, all of them titans of their own eras.

CIO round table events and a slew of recent interviews suggest that the enterprise application landscape is about to go through a radical transformation. Established and lucrative vendor revenue models are being challenged by tablet devices, smartphones, the cloud and the consumerisation of IT. As a result CIOs will seek a more diverse application landscape rather than relying on large monolithic suites of applications from single providers.

The heritage of all vendors is to instigate change, but for many, rediscovering the appetite for change may be hard. But being technologists or a technology company doesn't exempt anyone from the challenge of staying relevant to our 20-year-old.