I read my predictions for 2013 again today and feel that I did a pretty reasonable job of highlighting the key trends that actually did impact IT in the last 12 months. I spent some time over the holiday period thinking deeply about what 2014 has in store for us and the new trends that will impact our lives going forwards. In many cases, the trends I forecast in 2013 are still in play, just getting stronger and more obvious in their impact. Nevertheless there are a number of new issues coming into view that will have an impact.
The first really new trend I see is a general loss of confidence that Enterprise IT departments can provide a real ROI for the businesses they serve. This is driven by a number of other converging trends such as the consumerisation of IT driving up levels of expectation way beyond what Enterprise IT can hope to deliver. We also see lack of trust creeping in due to a general failure of Corporate IT to manage Internet security and privacy issues (can we blame them?). The last strand in this argument is that for many businesses, it’s already been done, IT has already delivered the innovation, the manpower cost reductions and self-service functionality. From here it is a lot harder for Corporate IT to do better and so we see what was once the driving force behind business becoming yet another operating cost that business must bear.
Still on Enterprise IT, everyone is just getting sick and tired of the failure of outsourcing to deliver value. Without a structural change in how outsourced services are delivered there can be no future here. “Your mess for less” can only work if aggregate and multi-tenant services can offer real cost benefits, otherwise we just get a worse service delivered by people who don’t understand the business we are in, don’t care and are often rewarded for failure (pay by the service call). This reminds me of ERP and CRM solutions that never delivered any value because Enterprises wanted to bend the software to how they worked rather than the simpler approach of accepting defaults and making little changes to business processes. Outsourcing has to deliver standardised and multi-tenant services to add value and leverage economies of scale.
The consumerisation of IT and the deep impact of Social Media on our world continues to have a strong impact on business, driving up expectations whilst adding complexity and reducing the ability of IT to manage security. I can see the day when we have “bring your own email” to add to the already existing “bring your own phone” and bring your own device”.
Bring your own phone applies to mobile devices but is also starting to impact the desk phone with adoption of consumer style VoIP and peer-to-peer telephony delivered as part of BYOD (bring your own device). Built in video, screen sharing and conferencing capability are all there, why would anyone need anything else? Is the corporate desk phone dead?
We have been hearing a lot about cloud computing for a number of years but now it is starting to take shape. Cloud is all about software, automation, provisioning and scaling. Cloud is what we are seeing in Amazon AWS and Rackspace but also in the plethora of converged infrastructure offers (Exadata, Pure Systems, etc..) that we see in the Enterprise Data Center. EMC is making a very brave play to own this market with their Pivotal business unit in an attempt to leverage their huge advantage in virtualization via VMware.
Always on connectivity is beginning to be seen as a basic human right, I am not joking! So the growth of 4G mobile is an essential requirement as is WiFi connectivity. Watch out for firms suffering brand damage because their “free WiFi” isn’t good enough. Getting public WiFi to scale and deliver reliable connectivity is going to be very important and the lack of skill in WiFi installation and surveying services will start to bite.
Has the world just given up on security and data privacy? The NSA debacle this year has had the impact of utterly destroying any misplaced belief that our data is safe and secure. We have businesses colluding with Governments to expose private communications and data. If it’s not the Chinese Internet Army, it’s the NSA or maybe the Russian Mafia. What hope do we have? I really wonder what the outcome of this might be on confidence and the continued adoption of technology. Something really has to give.
Waterfall development methodologies are on death row everywhere, agile has proven it’s worth and is adding value based on a deeper alignment with human behaviour. We never properly know what we want, nailing a set of requirements years before delivery is just dumb. Scrum and other methodologies are becoming the norm and this is strongly mitigating against offshore development towards teams that are local to the requirements.
Magnetic storage is under a lot of pressure from NAND flash-based storage and the whole high performance, low latency use case has moved already. Hybrid storage solutions with a mix of flash and magnetic are making an impact at the commodity level, whilst all flash arrays are smoking hot. We have seen EMC making an offer with the XtremeIO product (whilst it is far too immature in my opinion) to counteract the impact that the competition are making to the market.
All in all, there is a lot going on as ideas become trends and trends become endemic and expected.