We know, we know: even your neighbors are issuing their 2013 technology predictions nowadays. Still, we couldn't help compiling our own list, as we are truly inspired by some of the technology-driven changes that are currently going on. The economic climate may still be very fuzzy, but when driving through Silicon Valley last week, it was apparent that a mini boom (as one of my resident colleagues called it) is taking place. In the slipstream of innovations in automotive, biotechnology and sustainable energy, IT has entered centre stage as well, driven by advances in Cloud, Social, Mobile and Big Data.
Anyway, we are all too familiar with that gang of four by now. Is there anything more specific to say about what’s happening next year to boost your Digital Intensity? Well, as we are in the process of compiling our TechnoVision 2013 documents anyway, it seemed a good idea to extract a few of the highlights and give you something to contemplate in the upcoming holiday season. So here is - without prejudice and not so final – our list of IT trends you don't want to miss in the forthcoming year:
1. Design for Digital. The word may sound a bit like an anachronism (Pong, anybody?) but ‘Digital’ quickly has become a synonym for the use of IT to create new ways to engage with customers, optimize operations and even completely transform business models. The Digital Era has brought fresh options to connect to better informed customers, using a variety of volatile channels and much closer to the dynamics of business. To fully reap the benefits, the IT landscape needs to be designed from the integrated, end-to-end, outside-in perspective of the customer. Creating this experience leverages building blocks such as the Cloud, Agility, Social, Mobile and Open, but also Design Thinking (see for example how SAP is focusing on it). It’s about finding the right mix between empathy, creativity and some good old analytical skills. Together, these principles fill the palette of the Chief Digital Officer, taking his or her rightful place next to the CIO. Look at people like Mike Bracken of the UK government, we’ll see more leaders like that.
2. What would Amazon do? Global Public Cloud providers such as Amazon and Microsoft benefit from their economies of scale to provide ever growing catalogues of advanced loud services. Although many considerations may slow down the rapid uptake of (public) Cloud, it has already set a new normal in terms of cost-effectiveness, flexibility, scalability and speed-to-market. Businesses are expecting powerful services that they can activate themselves with minimal upfront investment and pay for per use. Amazon has become the Xerox of Cloud computing; they are the benchmark to beat for any CIO.
3. Edge of Cloud. We said it before: the business side is more and more taking the lead around Cloud, with the benefits very well understood by now. So Cloud evangelization is far from hot in 2013. And although particularly the IT side – rightfully or not - may see many inhibitors for a quick uptake (legislation, security, robustness, service level, integration) Cloud already has become the default for supporting new and differentiating ‘edge’ business activities. So don’t be petrified staring at your legacy applications: consider social CRM, Human Capital Management, collaborative procurement, but also mobility and analytics to kick off exploring the Cloud.
4. Inflection Point of Real-time. Intel’s Andy Grove once described an Inflection Point as “an event that changes the way we think and act”. Well, with advances in Big Data such as the ability to store extremely large volumes of data, to deal with various formats – both structured and unstructured – and particularly to apply complex analytics to up-to-date operational data, we have reached such a magical moment in time: the end of Batch makes us think far beyond just stepwise improvements of existing business processes, as the need for queuing, waiting times and intermediates disappears completely. Organizations that look beyond the marketing hype of SAP’s HANA and Oracle’s ExaEverything, could trigger the imagination to re-invent themselves, making decisive leaps forward.
5. No Process. Big Data? What about Big Process? Or should we say: No Process? Building on a next generation of Business Process Management, Business Rules and Case Management platforms, many different flavors of process can be modeled, executed, monitored and managed. Actually, guided by context-sensitive and analytics-driven support a lot of fixed, inflexible processes can be replaced by a set of concurrently executed activities that optimize the time of human resources and their knowledge by having them ‘swarm’ around cases and results that need to be produced. So indeed, in 2013 there might no process like No Process.
6. Bring Your Office Device. Yes, we’ve got the consumerization and BYOD thing by now. We are all extremely sensitive to exciting, desirable user experiences, more and more on the devices of our own choice. And it’s also clear that IT departments will turn frequently to Mobile Device Management to keep this fest of devices and mobile operating systems secure and manageable. However, some new mobile operating systems have strong support for mixing private and business roles and also bring the next level of user experience. Interesting enough, they might start their popularity at the corporate level, only then winning the hearts of consumers. So watch out for Windows (Phone) 8 and BlackBerry 10, coming from unexpected corners. It’s BYOD, but not as we know it.
7. Friend your Vending Machine. Still not exciting enough for you next year? Why don’t you add a few devices to your social network: companies like Salesforce and Tibco enable you to subscribe to the status updates of client cases and proposals but also to follow the tweets of applications, middleware, cars, thermostats, TV sets, lamps, shopping carts, jewelry and jet engines being manufactured. The next wave of connected products brings all the potential of warm, intimate connections especially if these social things start to adapt themselves to your feedback and behavior, like and dislikes. Think about it, even if you believe you lead a boring life as a nerdy IT expert, 2013 might bring you a whole bunch of unexpected new friends.