What lies ahead for business and IT in 2014?

January 6, 2014 • Opinion

A New Year ahead brings renewed focus for strategic projects across the Business and IT landscape, but where do you look first? Theo Priestley, Software AG’s Chief Evangelist, delves into the murky depths of the current trends and pick three that will shape organizations for the next 12 months…but with one underlying theme…DATA

Theo Priestley, Software AG's Chief Evangelist (image: Software AG)

Theo Priestley, Software AG’s Chief Evangelist (image: Software AG)

Everyone loves making predictions. Like pulling the proverbial Christmas cracker and reading the awful joke inside it’s a perennial favorite, that anticipation to see what ‘those in the know’ will say about the trends that will lead the digital enterprise revolution in 2014. While I can easily pull together a Top xx list and talk the ears off a donkey I’ve selected only 3 and for good reason, they are so closely related you’ll reap the benefits when combined as a complete strategy.

Expect big things from Big Data

The first is that Big Data and Analytics will finally deliver on their promises. There has been a lot of talk for years about them but it’s now being understood as one of the key drivers of competitive differentiation. I say one of the key drivers for a reason because (a) without a way to access that information instantly (in-memory computing), (b) without the analytics to extract the value (real-time events processing), and (c) without taking action on that resultant insight (right-time intelligent decisions) then all you have is data.

It’s time to come out of the ‘single customer view’ wilderness here and start using the information you’ve collected for years. And it’s true, IDC tells us that we only use an infinitesimal amount of data in the right way (0.5% apparently). We are very good at collecting it, just not very good at processing and analyzing it. This has to change.

This potential cuts across every vertical; Healthcare, Financial Services, Government, Logistics and Manufacturing. I see departmental silos falling as organizations internally begin to share data openly for common purposes; revenue growth, product innovation and the customer experience. Organizations have the ability to create new customer experiences because of the increased insight into consumer behavior in real-time tied into intelligent business operations (as Gartner has termed this emerging trend) and processes.

There’s a lot of talk about being smart. You feel smart because you’ve got the information in front of you. I think it’s about time we got clever and used it.

And this links to the second prediction.

Rise of the Machines

The Internet of Things; the Industrial Internet; Machine-to-Machine communication, whatever term you choose to side with this is how connected the world is becoming and you need to be aware of it. Morgan Stanley analysts recently revised the early Cisco estimate this October and said that by 2020 they expect 75 billion devices to be connected to the Internet. That’s not just smartphones and tablets but anything that can communicate information.

A gas turbine generates power but also 500Gb of data. A turbine ! The damn thing spins around all day long but at the same time it’s communicating it’s state of mind and health to a myriad of systems that monitor it. We’re at the point where a machine will tell you when it’s ill and will schedule in maintenance before you know what’s happening, reducing downtime and saving thousands in costs. Imagine having that capability now across the cities, the grid, the sewers, public transport, policing, garbage collection (no joke!)

And now I’m back to Big Data and Analytics and taking intelligent action on that insight. See the links ?

A silver lining in every Cloud

As nebulous as the term is, Cloud will stop being a buzzword trend and just start becoming part of the everyday IT fabric. But the CIO needs to think differently about their information strategy in order to do it. Traditionally companies have created on premise silos; finance procuring their own billing systems, HR procuring their own HR systems etc. Over the years these have become islands of information all separate from each other (again that link back to open sharing of data in point 1). As organizations start to reach out to vendors e.g. HR harnessing a public cloud HR solutions, sales harnesses public cloud CRM solutions, they will start to form further silos in the cloud. This is where cloud service providers will fall short as they will only be bridging public cloud solutions and not linking with data that resides within an organization’s firewall.

Cloud should be seen an extension of an organizations existing investment in IT infrastructure; it doesn’t rip and replace but allows them to take advantage of what they have already. And part of this strategy is the CIO’s attitude to security. What the recent Prism leaks have done is highlighted that a Hybrid cloud strategy is the right path to take, one that combines all the benefits and security of an on premise model together with public and private cloud services that flex according to business needs. Imagine not being able to get to your mission critical information for 2 days because you invested in a singular cloud model, it would certainly cripple most organizations so you need to opt for a more flexible strategy.

So there you have it. 3 key trends I think should form an integral part of both Business and IT strategy in 2014. I can’t ignore the impact that Mobile and Social have had and will continue to have on the business world, or how important process remains at the heart of business operations. In fact, they play as much a part of the digital enterprise revolution as the aforementioned but in order to harness your existing IT investment, future proof it and take advantage of the rich vein of real-time information you have access to, then start here.

Now pull the cracker and start 2014 with a bang.

Theo Priestley, Software AG’s Chief Evangelist

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