Predicting the Year Ahead
We asked our Cutter experts to give predictions on upcoming trends for 2012 and beyond. Here's what they had to say ... (New predictions will be added daily.)
Our Contributors Include:
Paul Allen, Scott Ambler, Steve Andriole, Jurgen Appelo, Sanjiv Augustine, Brent Barton, Claude Baudoin, Bob Benson, Ron Blitstein, Gil Broza, Jens Coldewey, David Coleman, Ken Collier, Sara Cullen, Ward Cunningham, Lynne Ellyn, Roger Evernden, Malcolm Fry, Israel Gat, Hillel Glazer, Jerrold M. Grochow, Curt Hall, Dave Higgins, Peter High, Jeff Kaplan, Vince Kellen, Bill Keyworth, Mark Levison, Masa K. Maeda, Robert Mason, Ken Orr, Bart Perkins, Mark Peterson, Carl Pritchard, James Robertson, Alexandre Rodrigues, Mike Rosen, Robert Scott, Oliver Sims, Mike Sisco, James Sutton, David Spann, Catherine Szpindor, Mitchell Ummel Bhuvan Unhelkar
Valuation Models Will Overweight the Importance of Cloud Delivery
By the end of 2012, Wall Street will dramatically modify their valuation models of software and technology services companies to overweight the importance of cloud delivery. Companies that can demonstrate significant growth in cloud services will be rewarded; those that fail to embrace the cloud will be punished -- in the wallet, where it hurts. And since Wall Street analysts don't slice and dice "the cloud" the way those in the trenches do, all kinds of public and private cloud services will be bundled in their valuation models. This trend will solidify the standing of cloud delivery services as the primary driver of corporate valuation models within and beyond the US, valuation models that enable increased stock prices and therefore greater investment in cloud services to their clients. Cloud delivery-driven valuation models will define the value of technology companies for at least five years.
Cloud-Based Collaboration Suites Take Off
Prediction: The ABS Movement Gathers Steam
ABS stands for "anything but Sharepoint." While Sharepoint 2010 added capabilities and fixed others since the 2007 version, it is still a complex, unwieldy, and costly product that often requires add-on software to be really useful. The wiki feature is still deficient, and the term store has too many holes to make it a real enterprise-wide taxonomy tool.
In the meantime, a number of cloud-based, highly collaborative, easy-to-use products have emerged that can meet 80% of some users' needs at 20% of the cost. I'm talking about products like Jive (which hopefully SAP won't love to death if the rumors of an acquisition are true), Yammer, and IGLOO. IGLOO in particular intrigues me because the content management features are closer to those of a traditional CMS (documents can be versioned, checked out, reserved, etc.) thanks to the history of its founders, who came from OpenText. Once you have discussions, blogs, wikis, profiles, and a good document library, you're close to telling Microsoft you don't need their behemoth, even though you will still lose the tight integration with Office that the "Microsoft ecosystem" provides. The tradeoff may be worth it, especially if you have not yet made your multi-million-dollar commitment to Sharepoint.
Another benefit of a cloud-based ABS solution is that it is much easier to open to external participants (clients, suppliers, academic partners, contractors, etc.) than an on-premise installation. Sure, it also means that you need to address the risks of a solution in the cloud, including security and guaranteed access to your data if the provider runs into trouble. But think of the advantage of authorizing a contractor, in just a few clicks, to access just what she needs from anywhere on the Internet, instead of jumping through hoops to provide a corporate network identity and VPN access to an internally hosted solution.
Corollary: Our Identity Crisis Needs Solving
In this world of constantly shifting collaboration between participants from multiple entities accessing cloud-based workspaces, we also need to solve the "identity problem." Today, the only way you know that a certain Claude Baudoin on LinkedIn is the same one you see in the Collaboration 2.0 Yammer group, and the one you see on Google+, is if I use the same e-mail address for all systems. If I change my e-mail provider (or use my Cutter e-mail alias in one place, my Stanford alumnus alias in another, etc.), then I suddenly become struck with multiple personality disorder. We need a way to claim a single registered identity that does not depend on a specific e-mail address, but we also need to preserve the anonymity of people who live in repressive countries.
I am not sure this problem will be seriously attacked in 2012 because it is so complex. For one thing, who can be trusted to be the Great Registrar in the Cloud, when any error or malfeasance could touch our electronic lives so much? The current trend is for new applications to allow you to link to your account at another site (Facebook is one of the most popular identity references, for the obvious reason that it has the most users) but this is still not enough to give someone a stable, lifelong, unique, verified "Internet passport" when they so desire.
2012 Turbulence Means "Back to the Future"
That there's turbulence for 2012 that will affect business and IT isn't much in question. With great economic uncertainties (recession, Europe, elections) and, at the same time, significant changes in IT such as widespread user devices (tablets) and cloud, a lot is in flux. But what will this mean?
From everything we see at clients and in the press, this means a (perhaps uncomfortable) return to basics in IT. That is, we will see great emphasis by CIOs and CTOs on the things that have in the past been very important. This includes, for example:
- Improving Operational Excellence
- Understanding IT's costs and taking action to reduce them
- Successfully delivering IT value (and projects)
- Doing effective business-focused IT planning
- Assuring the availability of suitable talents in the IT organization
- (Re)building the relationship with business
In short, CIOs and CTOs will be focusing on improving IT's performance in the tried-and-true areas of IT management activities.
Back to the Future? This prediction, with the same bulleted items, could have been written ten (or maybe twenty) years ago. Oh sure, in 2012 we'll be overwhelmed with continuing hype about new technologies, the disappearance of the traditional IT organization and/or the CIO, and the wonders of new opportunities (read "BI", etc.) These will be factors for some. And perhaps the means for achieving them will have changed for some (e.g., Agile, architecture). But for the largest group of CIOs and CTOs, 2012 will, indeed, be a year of focusing on traditional areas of IT's performance: Back to the Future.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
Last year, my colleagues and I predicted various changes: an increase in this, a let-up in that. I finally understand why I have been struggling to come up with my 2012 prediction: I am just not seeing any changes. Let me elaborate on this for my specialty -- Agile/Lean software development.
I predict that many organizations worldwide will continue to adopt Agile. Most of them will do so with no expert guidance, with ho-hum results, and with little understanding of why they got those results. People will continue to get their Agile skills certified while others rail against the value and implication of those certificates. Companies will still rely on head hunters to hire Agile coaches, and wonder why those coaches can't seem to straighten out their Agile implementation. Organizations will continue to agonize over micro-estimation of detailed backlogs. They will continue to spend a pretty penny on "adding bodies" to projects riddled with technical debt, while not investing in the skills and habits their developers need to reduce or avoid increasing such debt. Managers will continue to use language like "We just hired a resource in development" without investing proper attention in the hired person. And downsizings will continue until morale improves.
Coming Soon to an Enterprise Near You: Crowd-Based Business
If 2011 was the year of the "Social Enterprise," then 2012-2015 will be the years recognized for Crowd-Based Business (CBB).
The "Social Enterprise" is being touted as the next big thing… the new way to do business, a social way to do business. But the next "big thing" in collaboration is crowds, not social. Social is only a new method of connecting and discovering information, social does not enable and guide action. Business is about delivering results, and for that you need a crowd!
A crowd as "a network that drives an outcome, task or goal" has business value. Understanding how crowds can add value to your business and also ensuring your business does not get disintermediated (the removal of intermediaries in a supply chain) by a crowd-based business will be the biggest challenges your enterprise faces over the next few years.
Intuitively, you know engagement is the key differentiator in a social network. Unless you get them someone engaged, attracting and keeping their attention is a fleeting effort for your business. A new corollary to Metcalfe's Law, called the Crowd Corollary, shows that the value of a crowd increases dramatically faster than the value of a social network. This corollary has profound implications for businesses. It is the power of the crowd that not only allows you to make better business decisions, but also makes it possible to get more distributed and collaborative work done faster. Why? Because crowds have natural alignment (by definition) and social networks do not.
The business challenge for 2012 and beyond is to figure out when and where to use crowds. How can they be a paradigm-shifting differentiator that allows you to beat your competition? Businesses will need to learn how to reorganize and take advantage of crowds before their competitors use a crowd to disintermediate them.
2012 Will Bring an Explosion of Interest in Social Analytics, Social Business Intelligence
I predict that 2012 will bring in an explosion of interest in Social Analytics, Social Business Intelligence, and the use of post-relational database technologies like Hadoop/HBase. In 2011 the world observed the power of social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and others on Middle Eastern human rights movements; corporate greed and customer service snafus; and the most recent Occupy Wall Street movement. In 2012 organizations will be exploring how they can glean valuable and actionable information from all of this unstructured, publicly available, and passionate information.
The Rise of the Professional Contract Manager
Now that approximately half the IT shop is outsourced (on average) either on, near, or offshore, the transaction itself is hardly novel. What remains difficult, however, is getting the results one wanted when the deal was set up. Both academia and the commercial world have started to recognize the importance of the individuals that get those results, not just those who put the deals together.
With regard to sourcing, I see 2012 as the year of the contract manager. More universities will offer contract management as a degree (not just a module), yet it will take some time for the students to enter the marketplace. The professional contract management associations will have a boom in membership (and for those with a job board, an increase in postings). But the demand for good contract managers will outstrip supply - next year and for years to come.
In 2012, to "set and forget" a contract will only be the domain of the most naïve organizations. To get results, and the return on investment, organizations will need to invest in:
- Building contract management as an organizational competence, and not treat it as an ad hoc task;
- Creating practical, reality-based contracts that can be managed well, as opposed to the rather complex maze-like documents currently in play, and
- Recognizing, rewarding, and keeping the contract managers themselves.
A Focus on Environment - not Enterprise - as the Context for Architecture
I have three related predictions for Enterprise Architects in 2012. Actually they are more like ongoing trends, but they are the ones that I think will be most relevant when making architectural decisions next year. All three could be summarized as a need to focus on environment as context, rather than enterprise.
Enterprise Architecture puts IT systems in the context of how IT supports business and management needs, and it places business processes and products in the context of the organizational structure, its strategies and capabilities. But enterprises don't operate in isolation, and increasingly their architectures need to be defined in the context of the broader environment. I see three reasons for organizations to start architecting the enterprise in its environmental context in 2012:
To evolve architectures that can weather extreme financial and economic crises. This will require architectures that are even more agile than today's. It requires components that are quickly and easily re-combined to meet new demands, many of which can't be anticipated. I predict that at the very least, architects will need to demonstrate that they recognize this need and that they know how to apply techniques that will shield the enterprise from environmental uncertainty.
To adapt architectures to support the new approaches to marketing and pricing enabled by the Internet. This will require new pricing and marketing models, and architectures that support these new models. I predict that the enterprise will need to operate multiple marketing and pricing models, covering traditional macro-pricing and push-to-sell marketing, and, in parallel, to compete with micro-pricing and customer-driven selection.
To allow enterprise architectures to interact securely with a myriad of self-contained apps. This will require new forms of application architecture that permit interaction with a huge variety of apps. I predict that the enterprise will move away from huge applications that provide a lot of functionality to an enterprise that provides the infrastructure and architecture that facilitates collaboration and self-organization of environmentally-sourced single-function apps.
Catastrophic Failure on the Horizon
My prediction is short, but maybe not so sweet:
In 2012 a major enterprise will have a catastrophic or near catastrophic outage due to poor Service Management.
A Healthy Skepticism of "Named" Approaches
I see the demand for actual performance results over declarative symbolic victories (e.g., certifications) taking a significant bend upwards. I've already begun to see the more forward-thinking companies maturing in their thinking about how they use "named" business, technology, and management concepts, e.g., Scrum, Lean, Kanban, CMMI, ISO 9000, ITIL, COBIT, Devops, etc. There's growing skepticism in the efficacy of popularized approaches. Executives are less likely to rush into using new ideas just because they've heard "the name". Whether they're skeptical for the right reasons or not, their cautious approach offers a better have a chance of implementing these "named" initiatives effectively, keeping them off their list of failures - a list that contributes to the skepticism in the first place.
Look for the New "Convergence": Analytics, The Cloud, Tablets
Business is moving at the speed of light. Everyone wants to know what is happening in real-time. The macro strategy is all about making micro adjustments based on sophisticated modeling and analysis of terabytes of transaction data - data from consumer transactions, financial transactions, and social transactions - and all of them together. This isn't happening in every industry, but in enough: businesses across the entire supply chain of consumer products (think product shelf placement that changes daily), financial services (think real-time credit adjustment), health care (think drug interaction reporting), transportation (think air fares that change by the minute) and more.
Data aggregators are making this data available via the cloud - and the same or other companies are providing the massive computational capability to slice, dice, model, and predict. Tables of numbers are good for basic output, but advanced visualization techniques - 3D, multi-axis, multi-color objects that can be rotated, summarized, drilled into - are the next generation. Tablets with multi-touch user interfaces (iPad, Xoom, Galaxy - pick your favorite) offer today's best combination of ease of use, size, and capability to deliver what was prepared in the cloud, but still needs to be studied and manipulated at your fingertips. Tablet-based visualization tools linked to high performance computers and massive data stores in the cloud will make their mark in 2012.
Mobile BI to Take Off in 2012
I see the growing adoption of tablets — by both consumers and companies — as really jump starting the corporate use of mobile BI. I base this on responses I've received from my Data Insight & Social BI Advisor readers, as well as from survey respondents, who have informed me that their mobile BI initiatives call for tablet devices to play a significant role, particularly for sales and field support. Tablets feature much larger screens that lend themselves very well to supporting mobile BI apps. Basically, enhanced screen size places considerably fewer constraints on the amount of information end users can download and interact with (as compared to even the most advanced smartphones). Tablets also tend to offer additional on-board processing power that can be used to enhance data visualization, charting, and other interaction capabilities. Additionally, organizations want to be able to utilize the dual cameras built into the iPad 2 and other tablets to allow employees in the field to take advantage of their video conferencing features, which will help spark increased collaboration and innovation among teams.
Another technology development that I think is going to help foster the spread of mobile BI and mobile computing in the enterprise, in general, is html 5. Most mobile apps today tend to be device specific. Users like this because it lets the app really take advantage of the device's capabilities. But companies don't, because many tend to use multiple platforms (e.g., iPad tablets and android phones, or vice versa as well as different vendors' products), meaning that they can get trapped into managing different app versions. Basically, html 5 is going to allow more companies to write apps that can run on multiple mobile devices, and yet still provide highly interactive capabilities for accessing, viewing and manipulating data, in addition to all the usually expected capabilities provided by mobile devices.
The primary domains and applications in which organizations will apply mobile BI capabilities are the same ones that they have been supporting with BI all along. These fall under the traditional CRM umbrella: sales, service, and customer support. This makes sense, as most of these areas are customer-facing and extremely time sensitive. Thus, they demand rapid response to issues that can affect the bottom line as well as customer service and satisfaction.
I see organizations increasingly using mobile BI for operational support. Such applications include executive management dashboards for measuring and managing company performance, and so on, as well as for finance and accounting. HR/workforce management apps also fall under this category. Mobile apps used as upper-level business tools--typically integrated with balanced scorecards, dashboards, and other performance management applications--are already experiencing considerable use. This is because organizations are extending their existing applications by adding mobile capabilities. Expect this trend to accelerate in 2012.
Organizations will also increasingly turn to mobile BI to support their distributed mobile workforces. This includes your field service technicians and outside sales reps, and so on, as well as managers who are required to visit different sites to assess performance of stores, sales and marketing campaigns, employees, etc.
I also expect organizations will turn to mobile BI to support supply chain activities as well as transportation and logistics operations. For instance, the built-in data input readers, cameras, GPS, and location-based features of today's advanced smartphones and tablet devices make them well suited for such mobile uses as inventory-in-the-field and for tasks related to tracking and scheduling (packages, equipment, etc.).
Many companies will initially consider the benefits of enabling existing applications with mobile capabilities. However, you should also identify new applications that take advantage of the unique capabilities afforded by mobile technology. In particular, companies should be “looking down the road” to consider the integration of mobile BI with operational systems, for it is here that I see the considerable payback (in flexibility/response, etc.) from mobile applications in the enterprise.
The bottom line is that mobility is a now strategic imperative — along with analytics, “the cloud” and collaboration, which actually all go hand in hand. Consequently, look for the use of mobile BI to ramp up in 2012 as organizations seek to extend their BI and performance management applications to provide greater numbers of users with near instantaneous, self-service access and analysis capabilities whether they are at their desk, at a client site, or stuck in traffic in a taxi.
If you're interested in a more in-depth look at the potential opportunities offered by mobile BI and the technology and vendor offerings, check out my Executive Report "BI Unwired: The Case for Mobile BI."
Industry-specific SaaS/Cloud Solutions will Proliferate
The success of horizontal, enterprise Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications and generic, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Cloud offerings in 2011 will not only fuel accelerated growth of these "on-demand" alternatives to traditional, on-premise hardware and software, but will also spark a new wave of industry-specific, vertical market solutions in 2012. These solutions will be built to target common inefficiencies within businesses and across the supply-chains in particular industries. The growth of these industry-specific SaaS/Cloud solutions will have a significant impact on the way these industries operate, improving their performance and profitability.
Winners of IT/Business Alignment goes to ... those who can "Market IT"
The critical need for technology to achieve core business goals has never been more pronounced. Business is rapidly advancing the use of technology to generate better profit margins, improved customer relationships and competitive advantage. As a result, the degree of change within IT organizations is unparalleled. Simultaneously, alternative "business" options for IT services now available outside corporate IT Operations are rapidly multiplying.
Cloud service providers such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) are able to quickly resolve the business demands for faster IT provisioning, increased storage capacity, faster response time, and more flexible software business applications. Managed Service Providers can cost-effectively resolve or alleviate the resource handicaps of traditional, internal IT service organizations. But much of what IT does cannot be "handed off" to externally available services. Too often the most expensive parts of maintaining the IT infrastructure are the very items that a service provider won't touch … forcing IT shops to continually do more with less until the required IT service management deliverable collapses.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), the burden of aligning IT with the Business falls almost exclusively on IT. Yet at the very time that IT is getting better and better at what it does, the perceived value of IT is becoming increasingly marginalized. I predict that the IT organizations that survive and succeed will be those that effectively "market" themselves to their business customers. The IT survivors in the next 2-3 years will be those who understand and position their unique competitive differentiation. The long term winners will know how to attractively package their Service Portfolio within the collateral of the Service Catalog. The internal IT winners will be those that execute against a strategic IT marketing plan.
Agile in the New Year
Half Hearted Agile Adoptions Will Continue
Many companies will adopt Scrum or Kanban and see few of the benefits. In many cases these are adoptions that don't gain real support -- only lip service. In some cases, the organizations start Scrum but continue to use Command and Control Leadership. In other cases, Scrum reveals organizational impediments about which but people say, "That will be too difficult to change here". Real performance improvement comes from a deep understanding of how Agile works and committing to change, not from lip service Agile.
Focus will be on Collaboration, Not Methods
All the Agile methods have one goal: to help your organization do a better job of delivering high quality software frequently. In the long run it doesn't matter which of the methods you use. What matters is that is that whichever approach you use, you use it well and make real changes as organization impediments are discovered.
Neuroscience is Recognized as Having Something to Contribute to Leadership
Though the sources of information are fragmentary, it is clear that neuroscience, behaviour psychology, cognitive psychology and their brethren have much to contribute to world of software development through the greater understanding of people. I've coined the word "NeuroAgile" for their application to the world of Lean-Agile software development. Neuroscience in 2012 will be a little bit like the Agile world’s 2002: there will be greater recognition of the importance of these tools, but there will also be a lot of misunderstanding and fumbling.
An Ever-Growing Focus on Value, Quality and Innovation
Last year I predicted that 2011 was to be the beginning of a shift from a focus on quality, schedule, and budget to value, quality, and innovation. Presentations at diverse conferences around the world show that there is an increasing interest in value and quality, and to some extent, innovation, too.
The interest in value and quality was boosted in part by Jim Highsmith's Agile Triangle (see Jim's webinar "Measuring Agile Performance: Beyond Scope, Schedule and Cost" and his book Agile Project Management, 2nd Edition). A few months after Jim's book came out in 2010, I published the first version of the Lean-Agile Prism in the Agile Journal, where I added design as a fourth element; that element evolved throughout that year to innovative design and, eventually to innovation. (I also wrote about this in the Cutter Executive Update, "The Agile Triangle Evolves as a Lean-Agile Prism".) Why the evolution? Because innovation makes it easier to increase quality and value.
During 2012 we will see this trend continue. Lean and Agile thinking, together with methods such as Kanban and Scrum, will greatly contribute to a better understanding of value and quality. Teams and organizations will begin to understand that innovation goes beyond highly visible products such as the iPad; innovation has more to do with improvements (at all levels of the organization and in all contexts) and that the longtail of innovation provides greater benefits than, for example, the 20/80 Pareto approach.
This shift in the way of thinking will help decision makers and customers understand that managing projects based on budget, schedule and time doesn't match the effectiveness of managing projects based on value and quality and allowing innovation to take place as services and products are developed.
I don't expect full awareness to take place during 2012 but I do expect to see a tangible shift in this direction by year's end.
Systems Improvements for Government
Numerous State, County and Municipal entities are facing difficult times managing finances and workforce cost. With the continued economic slump, government and its departments/business units are experiencing tighter budgets and are insisting upon greater value from investments. At the same time, financial and budgeting systems have aged to the point where it's time to look at replacing them. While still useful, many existing business systems are lacking integration capabilities, hindering much-needed increases in workforce efficiency and effectiveness. New systems come with high expectations for improvement.
Financial ERP systems for State, County and Municipalities will be a major focus area for replacement and upgrades. While IT organizations have been prominent in developing project management offices (PMOs) over the last several years, IT leaders seem to have still not discovered how to gain the full support of the business. And with so much at stake for these financial and budgeting systems, many government executives are leaving little chance for project failure by appointing business leaders to drive the project implementation. The need for collaboration between the department business units and IT is tremendous during these transitions. Three critical disciplines will be needed over the next couple years for CIOs and IT leaders:
- Business process expertise
- Project investment governance
- Business acumen
None of these is about technology; all of them are about implementing technology, which is still the most important part of a CIO's job.
Business Process Expertise
One of the most important trends for CIOs and IT leaders is the ability provide high level expertise for redesigning business processes within the organization. CIOs and IT leaders need to develop Business Process Management (BPM) expertise within their organization to support the initial and ongoing efforts to assess the business requirements prior to selecting any ERP systems for finance and budgeting.
CIOs and IT leaders must also ensure that full governance methods, processes, and tools are in place across their organization as well as in departments affected by ERP implementations. In addition, the capability for change and readiness of the IT organization will be paramount for managing the significant investment in technology, vendor systems and resources required for ERP systems implementations. Every invested dollar will be held to higher standards as performance measures become part of governance expectations.
The third discipline that will be required of CIOs and IT leaders over the next two years is "business acumen". That is to say, they must have intimate knowledge of the business for the departments/business units they support. An even more critical aspect of business acumen is developing a first-hand business relationship with the stakeholders of the ERP initiatives long before the initiatives become defined and funded projects. Understanding individual stakeholder agendas and helping those stakeholders succeed will become an essential discipline as we move through the next few years.
By viewing these trends as a positive change and developing the three disciplines mentioned, rather than tussling with the business for control of these major systems transitions, CIOs and IT leaders will enable a collaborative and shared approach to modernization efforts.
Year of the App Redux
It's another "year of the app" for 2012 as more and more clients will expect any of the goods and services we offer to be available on their iPhones and Droids. A failure to include those elements in the tool set will invariably lead to charges that the provider lacks "true" customer service.
More Face Time in 2012
While technology will play a greater role, it's also evident that there will be a greater level of "touch" required for some clients who will see the advent of e-options as the surrender of personal contact. They will push back and demand true face time as well as on-site commitments. Coupled with this, expect Indian offshoring to see its first decline in quite a few years, thanks in part to the need for physical contact and in part to the sagging U.S. economy.
Looking for the Positive
The best bets for 2012? Almost anything that can be linked directly to a positive message. The world craves good news, and the organizations that serve that interest will be pleasantly surprised as their "we can do that, and do it with a smile" message will surge. Oh yes, and those flying cars I predicted last year? Look for new and improved models!
Internet-based Mobile Technology will Play a Vital Role in 2012
Last year my prediction focused on the emerging impact of Internet-based mobile technology on the business models in the context of the economic and financial crises. I predicted: "The year of 2011 will most likely be characterized by further innovation and reliability of mobile technology allowing organizations to explore mobility on a much larger scale. Business models and processes are likely to be redesigned to embrace this potential."
The year of 2011 brought clarity about the real causes and trends of the so-called "economic crisis": surprisingly (or not) globalization, as it consolidates, has triggered what I call a "beneficial leveling of wealth" around the globe. While this leads to "economic crisis" in certain parts of the world, especially in the northern hemisphere, in other parts of the world (especially in the southern hemisphere and Asia) it brought economic growth, better living conditions and opportunities. This will continue in 2012, and with stronger consequences: organizations that are capable of establishing truly global operating models will prosper; the ones that don't will suffer and some will disappear. These models are not just about large organizations and companies; they also apply to small businesses. At the heart of it lies a new and emerging specialized remote working culture, coupled with Internet-based mobile technology.
Internet-based mobile technology was, in 2011, at the core of major social and political transformations (not to say revolutions), in different parts of the world. I believe that changes that occurred in 2011 would have never been triggered and undertaken without the presence of this technology, and that they demonstrate the technology's potential and, above all, its irreversible presence in all dimensions of today's humanity - not just business. Internet-based mobile technology has become part of us, and the future is that we will not be able to accomplish even our most basic daily activities without it. Can you imagine a useful and attractive mobile phone, laptop, iPod, or even a television without Internet connection? In 2012 practically all electronic devices will be Internet based.
As people progressively learn to explore and mature the use of this technology, the growing impact on business models and collaborative working models will trigger new rules of survival in the new Internet-based global economy. Successful organization will transform accordingly.
In 2012, changes in political systems, environmental concerns and issues, climate change and natural disasters, will all create a focus on emerging priorities and Internet-based technology will play a vital role.
Business Architecture Becomes Mainstream
Over the past few years, the field of Business Architecture (BA) has been evolving rapidly. It used to be the exception that an EA program had business architects, but now it is the rule. A consensus is emerging about what BA is, what it produces, who practices it, and how. Professional organizations such as the Business Architecture Guild are creating communities of architects and developing best practices. Now, BA is delivering results that are impacting the business and getting attention for doing so. And finally, the critical mass of successful results, best practices, skilled professionals, resources, tools, has reached the point where Business Architecture is a mainstream capability within most advanced organizations. What is the state of BA at your organization?
Hype Drives the Cloud into the Trough of Disillusionment
Sometimes my favorite thing about the cloud is that it is garnishing all of the media hype these days, in place of SOA. Finally, I can stop trying to meet overblown expectations about when SOA will deliver benefits, and get down to the business of implementing valuable SOA solutions. Don't worry, the cloud will get to this point too, but it has a few years of growing pains to go through. This year, it will pass through the inevitable "Trough of Disillusionment" part of its lifecycle. Now don't get me wrong. There's plenty to like about the cloud, and over time it will become a standard part of enterprise platforms, but for now it has the unenviable position of too much hype that is impossible to live up to.
However, as architects, we shouldn't get complacent about the eventual (and fairly soon) onslaught of all things cloud. So, make sure you're ready. Have you already developed criteria that will explain to the business what are acceptable uses of the cloud, and what is outside of your company's risk profile? Do you have a set of criteria that you can use to evaluate whether a particular cloud solution fits within your enterprise in terms of management, monitoring, DR, integration, semantic models, etc.? I hope so, but if not, now is a good opportunity to do so. Because the trough is only so deep, and soon the cloud will be here, and we will be on/in it.
Pads Will Rule The World -- But Won't Replace The Laptop
If you don't already have an Apple iPad or similar type of "pad", odds are good you will soon. They are gaining in popularity at light speed, and CIOs are finding the need to integrate the use of pads into their corporate technology strategies.
I didn't rush out to get an iPad when it was announced, but what I discovered was that those who started using them really liked them. Then, every major vendor started producing their own version of the pad. My wife and son now have iPads and I chose an HP TouchPad even though production has been discontinued. It serves my needs just fine for the time being.
There are reasons the pads will continue to grow in popularity within corporate environments"
- Bigger screen makes it more practical to work on them
- Professionals are using them instead of pen and paper for notes, scheduling, etc. (i.e., PDA and notepad functions)
- Portability and bigger storage give people access to significant amounts of reference material. For example, airlines are starting to put pilot reference manuals onto pads which eliminates the big heavy briefcases you see pilots toting. You will see things like this in virtually every industry.
- Low cost to purchase -- and the cost will only come down over time
- Low cost to operate with minimal power consumption
Business will migrate to pad technology as the it becomes more and more PC-like. They will gradually drop desktops and laptops except for power users. What this means in the short term is that IT organizations will be supporting many more devices as many users will use both a traditional desktop or laptop as well as a pad.
Laptops are here for a long time, but the desktop is going to become a dinosaur in 5 years.
Recession on the Horizon; Invest in Agile
Given the current interest rate situation and demand for US currency, the US will see much more business expansion through 2013; Once the world realizes we are not really any better off than Greece (in terms of debt/GDP), we'll see inflation, business retraction and possible recession. Companies interested in surviving the 2013 - 2018 recession would be wise to invest in going Agile as soon as possible and holding the cash they save in the process to buy out those companies that weren't so smart.
The Enterprise Begins to Dance
In 2011, and with increasing speed in 2012, Enterprises are embracing the whole-system view of themselves. This means they will take an increasingly strategic view of improvement, coordinating change across divisions and functions to achieve a higher overall level of performance. This trend is reversing the short-term, every-division-for-itself fractionalization that many organizations adopted during the financial pressure years 2008 - 2010. In the coming year we will see more of the team mindset (with some "taking one for the team" while others seemingly gain) than the "spread the pain" approach. The most successful organizations will compensate those groups which bear the greater pain so the whole can prosper.
The systems-wholistic trend will continue even if the economy goes back into recession. Many who took the fractionalized approach and "squeezed everyone equally" are now weaker players than they were before. Those who took the systems view are now stronger. The weaker organizations that return to a system-wholistic approach will rebuild their competitive position. Those that don't will be (indeed, already are being) replaced by organizations that do. This is happening because, as systems theory shows, there is much more potential for improvement from optimizing a system as a whole than there is from optimizing its parts individually. The multi-year downward stock trends of traditional fractionalized players such as GE and Cisco versus the upward stock trends of integrative systems organizations like Amazon and Salesforce.com, conclusively show that this is already happening.
Other reinforcing trends to watch include
- A return to the full vision of the Lean paradigm from the ineffective "pick and mix tools" approach adopted over the last few years. This will be facilitated by…
- A tectonic shift from management driven by command-and-control, to management driven by customer delight. (Both the "Beyond Budgeting" and "Radical Management" movements reflect this shift.) Much of the information needed to do this well will be provided by…
- Greater use of Complexity Management techniques to increase the alignment of all the people in the Enterprise with its customers based on needs, purpose and profit.
For the first time, all the tools needed to bring about these changes exist and have been proven in live corporations. The result of these interconnecting shifts will be that the Enterprise, at the end of 2012, will look more like an effective, coordinated whole and less like a collection of disparate, often at odds with one another, parts.
The Enterprise will begin to dance.
The Battle for Mobile OS Wages On
In 2012, the battle for the mobile operating system (OS) platform will wage on, with Android-based tablets and smartphones continuing to gain market share against Apple, whose next iPhone 5 (the design of which the late Steve Jobs was heavily involved in) will be shipped well in time for the 2012 holiday season. Other smartphone and tablet OS vendors, including Microsoft and RIM, will continue to be increasingly irrelevant. Expect corporate "approved technology buy lists" to further extend into the Android and Apple mobile device market, as enterprises rush to support these devices behind and across the firewall. Furthermore, it's only a matter of time (perhaps in the coming year?) that we see a "hybrid" (perhaps transformable) tablet/smartphone in a single, all-in-one device. What will we call such a device?
Traditional Enterprise System Vendors to Enter Public Cloud Computer Market
In 2012, formidable public cloud computing market players will continue to spin up and mature their offerings. Traditional enterprise systems vendors, including but not limited to Oracle and IBM will enter the IaaS and PaaS fray. Cloud vendor "lock in" will become a more visible issue, with portability standards sorely lagging in development and adoption. By the end of 2012, expect early cloud portability standards to emerge (some driven by government cloud requirements), with Amazon leading the charge in adoption and promotion of these standards.
Hot Skills for IT Pros in 2012
I see that in 2012, the areas where we'll see the need for highly skilled IT professionals are business process/innovation analysis, project/program management, enterprise security, and risk management. We'll also need Enterprise Cloud Solution Architects. And we'll see that the most effective and innovative CIOs will continue to keep one foot in the business and one foot in the technology; that's their key to survival.