This month, Forrester released its list of top technology trends for the three year time horizon. The author of the report, Forrester Analyst Brian Hopkins makes the point that now that consumers and employees have continuous connectivity and an endless supply of apps, the CIO must drive the nimbleness that will be demanded by employees and customers, while he or she must also do so securely. These trends are so woven into the business drivers, that IT leaders must become much more strategic, providing the rationale for the changes that are afoot. With this background in mind, Forrester identifies the following ten technology trends for the 2014 through 2016.
[heading type=”h3″ class=”” css=””]1. Digital convergence erodes boundaries[/heading]
Physical and digital worlds are converging. As a result consumers expect uniform service whether they are in the physical world or if they are in the digital world. The convergence of the business and personal use of technology is also fueling this trend.
[heading type=”h3″ class=”” css=””]2. Digital experience delivery makes (or breaks) firms[/heading]
Forrester makes the point that “A great digital experience is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a make-or-break point for your business as we more fully enter the digital age.” The report points to a growing number of firms that have chosen a mobile-first approach, but then falling flat because “systems of record cannot keep up with engagement needs.” To a greater extent, customers’ impressions of a business are established through digital engagement forcing businesses to recognize that “software is the brand.” Some CIOs are losing their influence over the decisions in these areas as digital experience agencies are engaged by chief marketing officers and chief technology officers to a greater extent than by chief information officers.
[heading type=”h3″ class=”” css=””]3. APIs become digital glue[/heading]
Forrester draws a comparison between service-oriented architecture (SOA) and application platform interfaces (APIs). Like the former, the latter provides “open access to useful functionality through network-based services using technologies that are readily accessible from a broad range of programming environments.” The report sites as examples Amazon.com AMZN -0.33%’s product advertising API and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s API which represent business model innovation under this paradigm, while also highlighting the need for ever more sophisticated security given the exposure of data to a much broader set of individuals.
[heading type=”h3″ class=”” css=””]4. The business takes ownership of process and intelligence[/heading]
Forrester highlights that IT is losing its control over business intelligence platforms, tools, and applications often due to IT’s inability to operate at the increased pace of the business. The report also notes that business process management, again a traditional domain of IT by-and-large, is increasingly becoming the domain of other functions as “a new class of users demands more user-friendly, self-service features to automate ad hoc processes without expensive and scarce IT resources.” As mobility increasingly becomes a strategic imperative of the entire business greater levels of process and data innovation should arise, again leading to various functional leaders to wrestle control away from IT.
[heading type=”h3″ class=”” css=””]5. Firms shed yesterday’s data limitations[/heading]
Forrester maintains that “firms that embrace big data concepts, open data, and adopt new adaptive intelligence approaches are creating next generation smart systems that overcome limitations and create disruptive business innovations.” Cheaper, more agile, collaborative, and adaptive methods for analytics and data sharing are key. Forrester also notes that it is important to design “predictive apps able to sense their environment and respond in real-time, anticipate user action, and meet users in their moment of need.”
[heading type=”h3″ class=”” css=””]6. Sensors and devices draw ecosystems together[/heading]
The Internet-of-Things will move from hype to reality with the ubiquity of connectivity and proliferation of devices, and wearable computing will go from niche to broader use. This will turn the traditional “spray-and-pray promotional campaigns” into marketing to ecosystems that emerge as a result of these changes.
[heading type=”h3″ class=”” css=””]7. “Trust” and “identity” get a rethink[/heading]
The report posits that trust has been irreparably harmed as “it’s impossible to identify ‘trusted’ interfaces, many data breeches comes from trusted insiders, and the concept of ‘trust’ doesn’t even apply to data packets.” Consumerization of IT means that a greater number of IT devices and apps are being used in the workplace, especially by the digital natives. IT’s need to catch up with this will continue to be the norm. Forrester also points out that “the minimum cost of a data breech is $10 million, and in many cases it can be much larger”, and so it cannot be ignored.
[heading type=”h3″ class=”” css=””]8. Infrastructure takes on engagement[/heading]
Forrester foresees a number of changes that will change infrastructure from barrier to progress to “enabler of business demand for engagement.” The report notes that leading companies are changing silo unified communications and collaboration, mobile device management, and desktop computing to more efficiently deliver and foster employee engagement and innovation. Also, “converged infrastructure and software-defined networks are leading to the emergence of the software-defined data center (SDDC) as the new organizational model for intelligent infrastructure management — as a result, technology infrastructure will be able to deliver blazing fast performance on a variety of workloads, all at an affordable cost and level of complexity.”
[heading type=”h3″ class=”” css=””]9. Firms learn from the cloud and mobile[/heading]
Many firms have cloud strategies and mobile strategies, but the report makes the point that the benefits of the cloud will be limited by the speed with which traditional applications are re-written to take advantage of cloud. Without this redesign, benefits will be limited. Additionally, mobile strategies that have been a part of IT strategies across industries for a couple of years are now insufficient given the need to think of mobile as only one part of a broader omni-channel approach which requires a new kind of “application architecture that must be capable of supporting systems of engagement.”
[heading type=”h3″ class=”” css=””]10. IT becomes an agile service broker (or fades away)[/heading]
Forrester notes that “Today’s leading IT organizations are moving from aligned IT to empowered business technology practices.” Examples include
- Becoming technology service broker
- Modifying the software development lifecycle , architecture, and solutions development to deliver mobile, cloud, and big data solutions more readily
- Changing portfolio management to focus on products rather than projects as projects are more narrow in focus which leads to narrower value
- Replacing the success metrics to gauge project management “from time, cost, and resources” to “value, capacity, and time-to-market metrics.
Peter High is the President of Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He is also the author of World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs, and the moderator of the Forum on World Class IT podcast series. To read his series on CIO-pluses, visit this link. To read his series profiling CIOs who have risen beyond that role, visit this link. Follow him on Twitter @WorldClassIT.