“From today, painting is dead!” -Paul Delaroche (1839)
“Painting in the tradition of the post-impressionists is not about strict adherence to details. There is an engaging middle ground where fundamentals in realism yield to an expressive abstraction of the elements.” -Gavin Brooks
By the mid-19th century, things looked mighty bleak for painters.
For centuries, artists had become more and more skilled in their depiction of reality. Painting began to have perspective, light and shadow, realistic skin tones and facial expressions, three-dimensionality.
These paintings were a wonder to behold. They came closer than any other medium to capturing reality.
And then came the camera. And photography. And the bottom fell out of a lucrative business.
If you wanted a portrait of your family, you no longer went to some person dripping paint onto the floor. You went to a photographer and got your actual image captured.
Photography rendered painting obsolete. Only it didn’t.
The same thing happens in technology. Every year—heck, every week—some new technology arrives and threatens to displace our prior models. Much like the advent of photography threatened the existing art of painting, the arrival of technologies like APIs, API Management, mobile apps and web apps, appear to render old legacy back-end systems obsolete.
Only they don’t.
Old technologies don’t disappear the moment a new technology appears. Many technologies, languages and systems remain in production decades after their supposed usefulness has ended. Companies who make decisions and roadmaps based on this fallacy (that new immediately displaces old) face a difficult path.
The problem with painting is that you don’t get an exact image, the precise details of how something looks. Photography came along and fixed that (at least as far as possible in two dimensions). So, painters did what business now must do. They pivoted. Painters sought the gaps in the new technology and filled them in creative ways. Impressionism, Cubism, Pointillism, DaDa, and countless other movements and techniques emerged from this period. It would be difficult to stay that painting as an art form isn’t much stronger for this pivot.
Because, while you can’t get a detailed image of how something looks from an impressionist painting, you can’t get a sense of how a place feels from a photo. You need both to get a complete picture—neither rendering the other obsolete.
Likewise, with today’s technology. The companies who will win are those that both embrace abstraction and impressionism of UX, engagement, digital and mobile while harnessing the precision and depth of their complete gamut of back-end systems. Each one is necessary but not sufficient for transformation.
Much like a photographer doesn’t build their own camera, nor a painter their brushes and paper, finding a partner is akin to selecting the tools with which you will create your company’s art.
When considering a vendor, often the people a vendor employs becomes a vastly more important factor than the technology it sells. As are its vision for the future. Does it align with your vision? Are they committed to the space or simply a conduit to a parent entity’s drive for monetizing more compute cycles?
Standing before a great impressionist painting generates a warmth of feeling that borders on the sublime. It captures something about the nature of human existence that moves far beyond the details of exact representation. Looking at the cherished photograph, forever capturing an instant of time, conveys far more than the proverbial thousand words. We wouldn’t want to live in a world where either of these technologies was absent.
Often the best path in life is to avoid either extreme, to have a vision that transcends trends of the moment, and harmonizes the detailed reality of your company today and the possibility of your company soon.
We at Axway are proud to be recognized yet again for our vision, our people and our independence. Perhaps our vision aligns with your vision—I hope it does. But either way, good luck out there.
Leader in the Gartner 2019 Full Life Cycle API Management
“The times they are a-changin’.” -Bob Dylan
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