Enterprise IT Consultant Views on Technologies and Trends

Jan 19 2011   2:26AM GMT

Gartner’s IT Top Predictions for 2011

Sasirekha R Profile: Sasirekha R

IT Top Predictions for 2011 by Gartner

Gartner’s report on 2011 IT Predictions – http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?ref=clientFriendlyUrl&id=1476415 – highlights that there would be significant changes in the roles played by technology in business, the global economy and the lives of the individual users.

The key theme of “ITs Growing Transparency” (as pointed out in the title of the report itself) is demanded and it requires IT to be more tightly coupled to governance and business control. The compliance requirement of IT expenses and financial goals will impact internal operations and the structure of contracts with suppliers and providers and more specifically cloud services providers.

The daily function of businesses, governments, economies and our individual lives depend on IT and this dependence gives rise to the prospect of technology being used to attack, disrupt and damage the nation states in which we live and work. IT could be wielded as a weapon with potentially catastrophic results. Defense reviews by government agencies across the world continue to highlight the growing risks of “cyber war,” and attacks against some nations have already occurred. The first prediction highlights this worrying trend.

The original theme of cost savings in IT is extending to make “Demonstrable support for revenue growth” as a primary IT objective. Governments and organizations of all sizes are obliged to re-evaluate the relationship between IT spending, operating budgets and revenue in much finer detail now aimed at understanding of how IT investments affect revenue and future prospects (no longer just a cost cutting measures).

Consumerization of IT is no longer a phenomenon to be contained or resisted.  The attention of users and IT organizations to shift from devices, infrastructure and applications – and focus on information and interaction with peers. And this change is expected to herald the start of the post-consumerization era.

The following are the predictions per se:

1. ITs Global Role – By 2015, a G20 nation’s critical infrastructure will be disrupted and damaged by online sabotage.

2. Revenue Growth – By 2015, new revenue generated each year by IT will determine the annual compensation of most new Global 2000 CIOs.

3. Costs and Investment – By 2015, information-smart businesses will increase recognized IT spending per head by 60%. By 2015, tools and automation will eliminate 25% of labor hours associated with IT services.

4. External Assessments – By 2015, most external assessments of enterprise value and viability will include explicit analysis of IT assets and capabilities.

5. Accountability – By 2015, 80% of enterprises using external cloud services will demand independent certification that providers can restore operations and data.

6. Expanding Markets – By 2015, 20% of non-IT Global 500 companies will be cloud service providers. By 2015, companies will generate 50% of Web sales via their social presence and mobile applications.

7. User Productivity – By 2014, 90% of organizations will support corporate applications on personal devices. By 2013, 80% of businesses will support a workforce using tablets.

8. Society – By 2015, 10% of your online “friends” will be nonhuman.

Of the above, I believe points 2, 5, 6 and 8 are more interesting and relevant to the newer trends. Have tried to cull out the important points to be noted, especially related to these specific predictions.

Post recession, capital markets tend to reward companies that report organic growth in revenue (rather than cost cutting). Sustained period of economic recovery is impossible without Revenue growth from increased customer demand. CIOs wanting to make “information” just as important to their mission as information “technology” can expect many new demands in the new decade.

The following four IT-enabled initiatives are the ones with potential to deliver increased enterprise revenue:

  1. context-aware computing
  2. Pattern-Based Strategies
  3. social networks and
  4. the channeling of IT staff innovation toward enterprise product development .

Analytics is moving to the next level of maturity and skills that would help in uncovering trends and opportunities – and don’t miss the meaningful shifts in customer sentiments and preferences are the ones to be invested on. Understanding and explaining human behaviours – how people react to one another in different cultural settings – would help both business and governments.  Gartner recommends that CIOs devote 50% of the R&D and training budgets toward funding social science education – sociology, anthropology, cognitive psychology and ethnomethodology – for staff.

Cloud services are highly risk prone and require a high level of security functionality and the fault-tolerant mechanisms of the providers are over blown. Data loss is a higher risk in cloud than the data security which is now focused upon.Each individual user cannot be expected to determine if the service meets the security, regulatory and business continuity requirement. But unless the buyers feel confident, cloud computing cannot reach its full potential.

Third party “certification” model with highly skilled risk assessors is the practical solution available. Existing certification like SAS 70 are not adequate and doesn’t provide evidence of security and data recoverability and mostly misused by suppliers today.

New cloud specific certification programs involving the US and European Union governments and cloud industry consortium is the step in the right direction. Gartner also points out that the need and benefits of standards like FedRAMP, Trusted Cloud Initiative, BCM standards such as BS-25999, ASIS SPC.1-2009 and NFPS will not become more apparent until there have been several prominent instances of unrecoverable data loss events (hoping that it doesn’t turn out to be the case).

In any case, it is advisable for organizations looking at cloud to not do away with traditional disaster recovery mechanism, such as offline backups, at least till the time that Cloud is more proven.

Prediction 6 is the most interesting and in a way highlighting a whole new world of opportunities. Cloud computing is removing the historical barriers for non-IT companies to provide IT related competencies – and these non-IT service providers may directly compete with IT organizations. Businesses will start understanding the principle that cloud computing is a means to deliver “IT-enabled capabilities” and not just “IT capabilities”. Hyperdigitization of industries like financial services, education, communications and media, government etc. would add fuel to this trend.

According to a consumer survey, shopping is the third-largest activity for consumers on the Web (and social activities form the eighth largest). By 2013, the installed base of web capable mobile phones and smart phones will surpass the ones of PCs and Laptops. Organizations are re-investing in their e-commerce capabilities (both B2B and B2C) to increase sales via SMS, mobile Web browsers and applications.

The mobile device has the most potential of any channel to provide “in context” offers to customers because of its access to identity (e.g., calendar), environmental (e.g., GPS location), process (e.g., wish list) and community (e.g., Facebook friends) information about the mobile device user. Organizations should move to a context-aware promotions model that leverages information about the mobile and social user.

The Web continues to evolve in the social dimension, where every website is becoming a social site, and every social site is evolving toward a social platform. Social media strategy involves several steps: establishing a presence, listening to the conversation, speaking (articulating a message), and, interacting in a two-way, fully engaged manner. Most efforts at social engagement are handled manually which is hard to scale. Some e-commerce sites have fully or semi-automated live chats, providing canned answers to questions, and redirecting as necessary to a human operator.

In 2010, large organizations embarked on systematizing the act of listening – monitoring social media conversations in blogs, social sites, forums, and more. Nigel Lack, a software developer created a global warming chatbot (a program that chats) and some users have conversations with it spanning dozens of tweets over a period of days.

Progress in artificial “intelligence” in the classic aspect of linguistic processing, semantic knowledge and logical inferences, and also in the area of “emotional intelligence” would make conversations appear even more natural. By 2015, efforts to systematize and automate social engagement will result in the rise of social bots – automated software agents that can handle, to varying degrees, interaction with communities of users in a manner personalized to each individual.

Today, average user of Facebook has 120 to 150 friends of which some have never met and this situation is treated as natural. A next step in the evolution of online interaction is to have software bots as friends. In some cases, users will be aware they are dealing with a bot, and will find this acceptable.

The conclusion seems to be “Virtual is Real!”.

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