Editor’s Note: With 2013 now upon us, RCR Wireless News has gathered predictions from leading industry analysts and executives on what they expect to see in the new year.
We are at the end of 2012. Predicting the future is nearly impossible. In general, the predictions fail because we cannot really identify information relevant amid the noise of data and information that surrounds us. Often limited by our experiments, we assume that the current reality will repeat indefinitely. And do not consider disruptions and break paradigms. At the end of the 19th century, the London newspaper The Times predicted that dirt horses overwhelmed London in less than 40 years. But a few years later came the automobile, which was a truly disruption in transportation. In IT the last 10 years have brought more changes than the 50 previous years. So 10 years ago no trend report included smartphones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter or cloud computing. And with the acceleration of technological change increasing exponentially, the chances of success of any prediction reduces drastically.
Interesting that all year-end industry analysts insist in publishing their predictions for the coming year. In my opinion foreseeing technology trends is quite different from the fashion sector. In fashion there is the color of the year, but there is no technology of the year, like in the fashion sector. IT evolves and matures over time. And when we look at the technology evolution in the short term we cannot distinguish major differences as our perception of change is linear. Only with the passage of time do we feel the emergence of a particular technology or concept was impactful to society and businesses.
So in this article I will give my personal opinions of what we likely will see happen in the next five years. I believe that in the next five years it will be clear that the technological convergence of four forces – or waves that are just starting like tsunamis at ocean, far from shore, will be upon us, causing significant disruptions in the IT industry and the use of technology. Yes, we talk about cloud computing, mobility, social business and big data. To look at them in isolation is misleading. But together they will cause a transformation in traditional IT as we know it.
It is interesting to note that there is still reluctance to adopt these technologies. I can expose some explanations for the fact. One is that technological advances have become so fast that they surpasses our ability to understand them and use them differently than what we use today. We do not recognize the new paradigms they embody. Thomas Kuhn in his fantastic book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” said: “Think of a paradigm shift as a change from one way of thinking to another. It’s a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change.” But, it is difficult to perceive these changes when we are in the midst of them. More difficult still is to start thinking differently when all other think under the dominant paradigm. The crowd is a highly inhibitory effect. We just recognize that these actual paradigm do not answer our demands anymore, but not yet realized that a new paradigm is upon us.
Another explanation is the traditional reluctance of the new front. Douglas Adams, famous fiction writer who was the author of the popular “The Hitchhiker the Galaxy,” wrote: “Everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal. Anything that gets invented between then and before you turn 35 is incredibly exciting and creative and, given opportunity, you can make a career out of it. Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of the civilization as we know it, until it’s around for about 10 years, when It gradually turns out to be alright.”
The IT areas that were once the gateway of technologies in enterprises are being overwhelmed by users. With them comes the adoption of innovative technologies and the strength of the “consumerization of IT” is much more impressive than it looks at first sight. This actually displaces the gravitational axis of IT adoption outside of IT for the first time in the history of enterprise IT. This new generation of IT can be simplistically defined as user-friendly and intuitive, highly mobile and social. This is very different from the IT keyboard and mouse, when you need to wait months for the acquisition and entry into operation of servers and physical stores and processes information primarily to meet the transactional systems. IT is actually a centralized organization, managed by processes, herding its users, defining what can and cannot be used. But in five years does this remain so? Research shows that in 2016, 80% of IT investments will directly involve the executives of the business lines, and that these will be the decision makers in more than half of these investments.
Can a traditional IT with its huge backlog of applications continue to justify long delays when all this apparatus with a simple click of a virtual button on a tablet can download an application, hire the services of an application SaaS or even trigger a process of creating an innovative application and can be done by services like TopCoder?
Today I see that there are two different perceptions. IT looks at these technologies coming under their traditional perspective and tries to put under the command and control paradigm by which the IT department itself was built. On the other hand, users do not want to be protected in this way. I think this point is that we will be consolidating the trends in the coming years. These technological tsunamis force us to seek a convergence of views and perceptions of both IT and users. The extremes will try to find the equilibrium point. But one consequence for me is indisputable: IT can no longer remain bureaucratic and dictatorial like today. If you remain indifferent or against these movements, the term “shadow IT,” today called the IT that runs outside of the control of IT, will be the real IT.
Cloud computing is no more a trend but a true reality. By the end of the decade the term cloud computing will disappear and we will use only computing as cloud computing will be the dominant model (or computational paradigm).
I hear some interesting questions about security, with IT managers having a data center that small to medium-sized and even less to a given security policy has acted. It seems to me that is the perception that security is given the physical sense of control when the server is in your sights. That is actually a false perception as the bits improperly accessed or changed are not seen physically. On average a typical data center has more outages than a data center from a good and reliable cloud provider. Cloud Computing will also provide the creation of new business models, in all sectors, including IT.
Therefore, to speak of trends we must turn on the technologies, but the specific changes we are already observing, and which will soon be disseminated and clearly visible in the areas of IT and also in consequence the service providers and IT products. The IT department – if you do not want to be relegated to a simple PBX department –should be redrawn. You must understand, accept and adopt the role of leading the changes that technology is and will be having on businesses in the coming years. Therefore, the main trend for next year, in my opinion, is the changing role of IT, becoming the driving force of business transformations and not a cost center reporting to a CFO or managing director.