HorizonWatching: Top IT Technology Trends For 2011

I’ve developed my list of top Information Technology Trends for 2011 to add to the trend lists that are being published at this time of year.  I came up with 11 trends this year on the list, rather than the customary ten. 

Slide2 The list below should not be a surprise to you all that much as most of the trends have been on my radar (and probably yours) for a number of years already.  Some of them are more mature in their adoption and development than others.  However, those that made my list are the trends that I feel will have the most impact on IT departments in 2011. 

For each of the trends, I’ve provided a short discussion of trend and what developments I expect in 2011.  I also provide you with links to sites where you can explore the trend topic in more detail.  All the text makes for a long post, but I like sharing more information rather than less.   With that in mind, here are the top IT technologies trends to watch in 2011.

 

1.  Private Clouds

The cloud computing ‘buzz’ has been going on now for 3 years.  Public clouds have been a major part of the discussion and experimentation.  However, more companies have begun adopting approaches to private clouds in parts of their businesses.  Many CIOs and business leaders are concerned with having their data residing outside their firewall.   In 2011 I expect to see mid and large-sized businesses to increase their experimentation and implementation of private clouds as the promise of the cloud delivery model is one that is just too good to pass up.  There’s also a growing interest in private ‘community clouds’ hosted for a group of organizations who trust each other.  The largest hurdles to cloud computing continue to be a lack of cloud standards and concerns regarding security, availability and performance.

For more information

 

2. Virtualization

Virtualized infrastructures are becoming popular not only for cost savings, but because they can enable quick changes to business models, operating structures and the way that business processes are enabled.  In addition, a highly virtualized infrastructure is a prerequisite for private clouds so CIOs will continue to focus on virtualization.    Over the last 3-4 years we’ve seen server virtualization really take off as a trend and now it is almost standard technology in the data center.  While security concerns remain a hurdle to deployment, we’ll continue to see a focus on virtualization across the entire infrastructure in 2011. 

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3. Social Business

Social collaboration is changing the way business is being conducted.  Over the next 10-15 years, social computing capability will becomes part of every business function within the company.  Social capabilities will become embedded in every single website, computing device for every participant in every single business transaction.  All participants involved in a company’s business processes and transactions will have the ability to share content, comment on content, rate/vote on content, and collaborate in an open and sharing environment.  In addition, all this social activity will generate data that will be mined and analyzed in both batch and in real-time.  The insights generated will be a critical input into all business processes, including research, product development, marketing, sales, technical support, and even business processes like accounting, procurement, and legal.  Since social will eventually be embedded in every business process and transaction workflow, social computing capability will need to be a critical part of every business application.  As a result, I expect entire business application suites will be rewritten to make use of social collaboration features.

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4. Mobile Computing 

5 years ago, mobile meant something entirely different than it does today, thanks to the introduction of the smartphone, the Iphone, Google’s introduction of Android, and just this past year, the iPad.   Mobile computing and the ecosystem that surrounds it is a major growth industry.  As smartphone adoption grows and the application infrastructure becomes more sophisticated, mobile will expand beyond messaging, and make mobile email, mobile websites and mobile applications viable channels in which to conduct business.  Enabling technologies will be new devices, faster networks, new location-aware technology, and improved mobile applications.  Some key mobile trends to watch in 2011 include Location Based Services, Mobile Apps, Mobile Gaming, Event-Based Mobile Marketing, and Augmented Reality.

  • Prediction that Smartphone Sales To Beat PC Sales By 2011 (see this)
  • Mobile Web usage more than doubling YoY (see this)

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5. Storage Trends

The huge growth of videos, pictures, audio, social media and other unstructured data is taxing the storage systems of many data centers.   The cost of storage for most enterprises remains a high component of the overall cost of a datacenter, even though the cost of storage per gigabyte continues to drop.  In addition other trends are impacting storage, including Cloud computing, virtualization, energy costs, economics and performance.  In 2011, watch for increased adoption of storage technologies like data deduplication, flash, solid state disks and automating volume-level tiering.

For more information

 

6.  Advanced Business Analytics

While information overload was once a barrier to good decision making, today’s technology and analytics expertise make it a real benefit. The explosion of data that is taxing storage systems is also driving the requirement for advanced business analytics.  Business leaders are yearning for deeper knowledge and insights on all aspects of their business and they know that the information they need is available within all the data flowing through the company IT systems.  Advanced analytics solutions can help business leaders adopt a proactive versus reactive strategy, enabling them to predict future behaviors and events before they occur.   Insights generated can help business leaders optimize individual business decisions, processes and entire business models, as well as manage risk and fraud, with the goal of improving the development and delivery of products and services. In 2011 look for advancements in streaming technologies, mathematical algorithms and predictive modeling as applied to business analytic solutions. 

For more information

 

7. The Personalized Web

Thanks to the explosion of social media, how users are influenced, consume information, and make purchasing decisions has been altered forever.  Users are increasingly expecting company websites, products, and services to be tailored to their individual preferences, past experiences, and what they happen to be doing at this very moment.  This puts the demand on business and IT leaders to create a personalized and engaging experience for end-users across all channels, both online and offline.  In 2011, I expect business to focus on advanced solutions that can delivering a more personalized experience to end users.   These solutions will be designed to mine the customer’s profile, buying behavior, browsing behavior and other insights obtained through marketing analytics in order to deliver a more customized and personalized online experience.  Look for further improvements in technologies such as marketing analytics and predictive algorithms that can automatically deliver highly relevant, contextually aware, personalized content and recommendations to customers via both online and offline channels.

For more information

 

8. Video-enabled Business Processes

Video content continues to make its way into all business processes.  This trend will continue over the next 5-10 years.  It makes my list this year as it is crossing over from both a security tool and a marketing (e.g. YouTube) tool, into a tool that can be applied across business processes to improve the way businesses communicate, collaborate, and educate all stakeholders.  Visual communication can actively promote teamwork and accelerate problem-solving processes leading to better business decisions.  In 2011, I expect forward looking business leaders and business process reengineering consultants will begin to use video to transform key business processes in order to create competitive advantage, lower costs, and to reduce environmental impact, particularly by avoiding the need for travel.  IT departments need to start preparing now to be able to handle future video requirements.

For more information

 

9. Service Oriented Architecture

In 2011 (as in recent years), I expect continued focus on aligning information technology efforts with business objectives and SOA will be a big part of those discussions.  SOA has been around for years, so it is not a new concept at all.   What’s new is that 1) business processes are in need of reengineering as a result of the social, mobile, and video trends discussed above and 2) a service orientation is a prerequisite for private clouds.  This doesn't mean that a mature SOA must already exist before an enterprise can venture into the cloud, but rather that architecture strategies that involve cloud must have a service orientation.  A service orientation gives businesses the ability and flexibility to realign operations as business goals evolve from year to year.   This ability can mean a competitive edge in terms of time to market for products and services, responsiveness to customers, and customer satisfaction.  So in 2011, I expect to see increased interest in SOA policy governance tools, repositories, and business rules engines all driven by the need of businesses to become more agile and prepare themselves for private clouds.

For more information

 

10. Sustainability and IT

Government and Business leaders alike are looking across their operations, to the products and solutions they sell, to the way they manage supplier relationships in order to understand how to better protect Mother Earth. The sustainability trend is a big one and technology can play a big part in helping to eliminate wasted energy, wasted space, and wasted natural resources/materials.  New technologies are available that can help organizations become more energy efficient, implement new ways to source, manufacture and distribute goods and services in a more sustainable manner, and enable safe and renewable sources of energy. In 2011, I expect companies and governments to develop strategies to incorporate sustainability information technology solutions that include the capability to analyze data and synthesize information in a variety of forms required by different departments within an organization.

For more information

 

11.  Risk Management

Organizations are facing an ever evolving and increasingly sophisticated threat environment.  Adding to the complexity is the fact that organizations are installing new computing capabilities such as cloud computing, mobile computing, and social computing that are making applications  interconnected than ever before.  These new technologies are also introducing new risks that are compromising critical infrastructures, privacy and identity, requiring organizations to rethink how they deal with compliance, risk management and data protection. Business and IT leaders are realizing that they need to build security and risk management capability into the initial design of their infrastructure and their applications, rather than add them on as an afterthought.  In 2011, I expect organizations will increase their focus on employ technology solutions to help them manage risk and provide a more secure environment for business operations.

For more information:

 

So there you go, that is my list of the top IT related technology trends that I believe will have an impact on IT departments in 2011.  CIOs and their IT departments should be well aware of these trends and have plans to implement the enabling technologies that make up these trends.   I’m developing a slide deck version of this post and will be posting it to the HorizonWatching account at SlideShare http://www.slideshare.net/HorizonWatching  sometime in early January. 

Frost & Sullivan: Global Megatrends Shaping Our Future

Today I attended a webinar offered by research firm Frost & Sullivan that was titled “Mega Trends that will Shape the Future of the World”.  The stated purpose of the webinar was to discuss the most important global mega trends, potential scenarios of specific trends in 2020, and the implications of these mega trends in transforming society, markets and cultures. 

The webinar was jointly led by Frost & Sullivan Partner Sarwant Singh and Frost & Sullivan Team Leader Archana Amarnath. For those of you who want to view the webinar, at the end of this post I have the embedded the webinar, courtesy of Frost & Sullivan and Bright Talk.

I really enjoyed the webinar.  Here is my review of the megatrends covered during the webinar.

1)  Urbanization.   Frost confirms a trend that we’ve seen mentioned by others.  That is that the world’s population is increasingly shifting towards an urban environment.  Frost says that this trend will result in mega cities, mega regions, and mega transportation/business corridors.   Technology will be applied to enhance living and business activities within these mega-environments.

As a result of the urbanization trend, technology companies will try to address issues that impact consumer and business activities.  Frost predicts there will be an increased focus on making cities ‘Smarter’.  There will be over 40 global cities to achieve a designation of being “SMART” by 2020.  Frost says that more than 50% of the smart cities of 2025 will be from Europe and North America.   As the worlds businesses competes to realize the smart city opportunity, Frost expects there to be a convergence of smart city technology that will ultimately lead to convergence of competition in three different industries 1) Energy Infrastructure Players, 2) IT Players, and 2) Automation/Building Control Players.

2) Social Trends.  Frost mentioned three sub-trends here 1) Geo Socialization, 2) Generation Y and 3) Reverse Brain Drain.   

Geo Socialization.  Frost says Geo Socialization services will become an important part of the landscape in 2020 as we’ll see all sorts of location based services being pushed to mobile consumers and mobile business workers.

Gen Y.  There will be an increased focus placed on new and innovative products and services that cater to the values, beliefs, interests, and lifestyles of the younger generation.  A prime market will be the younger generation in India and China, who are increasingly displaying four key characteristics as consumers

  • Personalization and Individualization
  • Techno Savvy and Connected 24×7
  • Civic and Environmentally Friendly
  • Demanding and Impatient – “Fast and the Furious

Reverse Brain Drain.  Frost expects there to be a migration of skilled and educated workers from developed companies back to their homelands to fill a shortage of CXO Positions In BRIC countries.  Frost also says that many Europeans and Americans will seek jobs in these developing countries in the future in order to participate in the huge growth economies that are materializing.

3) Increased Satellites In Orbit.   Frost expects that by 2020 there will over 900 satellites will be launched annually around the globe. While this will cause a traffic jam in space, all those satellites will enable a whole set of new and innovative applications and services.

4) Cyber Warfare.  Frost is concerned that by 2020 cyber warfare will become an everyday occurrence.  In fact, Frost says that if there is a World War 3 in our future, cyber warfare will play an important part. 

5) Robot Technology.   Frost paints a strong future for robots across all sectors of the economy.  Future robots will utilize artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to be able to help us with everyday decision making.  The top applications for industrial robots will be in Robots in Space, Military, Healthcare

6) Virtual Worlds.  Frost says that by 2020, 3D simulated environments will be used to significantly enhance consumer and business activities.   Simulation and virtual world technology will change the way we interact with users and data.  For example, virtual shopping will allow customers to try products without leaving their homes.   Virtual surgeries will allow doctors to train for new types of procedures just like airplane pilots train in flight simulators today.  Frost explained that haptic technology is an an enabling technology for these immersive virtual and simulation environments in the future.

7) Cloud Computing.   Frost says we will have smart clouds by 2020.  These will be flexible and customized clouds created by consolidation of different off premise hybrid cloud services.  Cloud computing will allow future information technology infrastructures to  be scaled up or down as the workload demands.  Key enabling technologies will be  API standards and cloud security standards.

8) Innovating to Zero.   As we move towards 2020, there will be a focus on using emerging technologies to minimize failures.  Governments and businesses alike will strive to reach a level of zero security accidents, zero facility failures, zero emissions, zero accidents.   Frost mentioned initiatives in Norway as well as initiatives in the power generation generation industry to enable innovative zero emission technologies including Wind energy, Solar PV Cells, Ocean energy, Geothermal Energy, Bio Fuels, and Travelling Wave Reactors.

9) Infrastructure Development and New Transportation Corridors.  Frost expects higher spending on travel, transportation, and utilities infrastructures.  Frost mentioned the highest spending may be in water management systems, but also mentioned power generation/distribution, Road & Rail, and Air/Seaports.    Frost provided the example of the Trans-Siberian railroad.   This new transportation corridor will result in industrial and business hubs along the railroad, much like “Route 66” did to the American landscape.  Development of Trans-Siberian railroad will have significant socio economic and business impact to Russia. 

10) E-Mobility.  Frost expects that over the next decade all sorts of new forms of personal transportation vehicles will make its way to the economy.  Many of these will target urban commuters who just need to get to work and back.  Frost says that 40 million electric 2 and 4 wheeled vehicles will be sold annually around the globe by 20120.   

11) Healthcare:  Spending will rise globally.  Frost says that if the current spending trend continues, Healthcare spending will almost double by 2050.  Some countries will end up spending 20-30% of their GDP on Healthcare.   Spending will transition away from treating and more for predictive analytics that will be used to help diagnose and monitor conditions before they become serious.


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