With 2009 looming large, ugly, and just around the corner, it's again time for the obligatory prognostications. Cutter Consortium Senior Consultant Vince Kellen, is looking for the silver lining ahead:
Trend 1: Firms will try to remove redundant islands of business process and technology. In 2009, big vendors won't be selling the CIO. They will be selling the person telling the CIO to cut budgets.
Trend 2: Data warehouses, vocabularies, and ontologies will advance steadily in the health sciences. Better management of the huge amounts of data generated and stored can result in significant cost savings and, more important, much-needed insight to deliver new products, new procedures, and better patient outcomes.
Trend 3: Open source will get a second chance to get a toe in the door. Initially, 2009 adopters will look for focused or niche applications, including office software for desktops, rather than "rip and replace" ERP swap-outs. However, I wouldn't be surprised if a few more early adopters attempt large-scale open source ERP.
Trend 4: Cloud computing will secure more early adopters, and virtualization will steadily grow. Cost-cutting pressures will drive CIOs to examine all costs in the data center to find novel and cheaper ways of delivering computing services. 2009 could be the year that data centers leave the building and begin their inexorable 15-year march to the cloud.
Trend 5: Low-cost disk arrays will grow rapidly. So will the need to store more data as a result of lawyers, litigation, and e-discovery.
While many will agree with Kellen's 5 trends, perhaps even making similar predictions, Kellen takes a bearish stand with his 5 "anti-trends", flying in the face of what many more bullish pundits will predict:
Antitrend 1: Social networking will unravel. Says Kellen, "At the risk of offending Web 2.0 enthusiasts, most firms, especially those hardest hit in this recession, consider social networking speculative and in some cases frivolous. To engage in speculation and innovation requires some staff time and some extra cash. My guess is that many of these projects have been put on hold and related staff have been reassigned or let go. Only the few strong ROI social networking and Web 2.0 projects will continue."
Antitrend 2: Mashups will get peeled back. "Again, speculative ROIs or projects not directly assisting with significant savings are going to be difficult for IT leaders to advance. I see this trend sliding down the priority list in 2009. Over the next year, I don't believe CFOs will be sold. The only good news for mashups is that costs may be small enough to avoid getting cut from the budget. However, we come back to the staff questions. Will firms have enough staff to assign to advancing mashups? I don't think so."
Antitrend 3: Large-scale VoIP and unified communication implementations will be muted. According to Kellen, those firms wishing to save money (which ones aren't?) will try to get another year out of their old phone systems. Large-scale VoIP projects are likely to be cut from the 2009 budget. "On the other hand," states Kellen, "firms that have put VoIP infrastructure in place are likely to continue to implement VoIP in 2009, since the infrastructure investment cost was sunk in 2008 or earlier."
Antitrend 4: Analytics and BI will lose luster. Firms just implementing data warehousing and BI solutions or those firms wishing to swap out BI technologies may decide to wait a year. Why? Says Kellen, "the data manipulation and data quality hurdles require not just capital but calories (staff). Most businesses will make do with what they have for now and choose much lower-cost alternatives for turning data into insight."
Antitrend 5: Aged infrastructure will stay in service longer. "More companies with way-past-their-prime architectures will attempt to coax them along for another year. This will undoubtedly make things doubly difficult as many companies, which will be carrying smaller staffs, will have to eke more time out of existing staff schedules to care for these aged beasts. Virtualization and low-end storage growth aside, many IT shops will pause and take a few breaths before funding major infrastructure changes."
Concludes Kellen, "These anti-trends are the dark clouds. I suspect there will be many who disagree with me; however, these anti-trends are a counterweight to the trends and we clearly need to consider them in our current climate."
To request a copy of the Business Technology Trends & Impacts E-Mail Advisor (December 11, 2008) containing Vince Kellen's complete remarks, or to schedule an interview with Mr. Kellen, contact Kim Leonard (+1 781 641 5111 or firstname.lastname@example.org).