I had to give a talk about the top 3 IT trends at a conference about a year ago. I thought it was simple, Internet2, Unstructured Data Management and Ubiquitous Computing – wrong!
I sent out an e-mail survey to about two dozen respected IT professionals and asked them the same question. I was expecting to get a list of maybe 7-10 trends. Wrong again!
The list I got back had more than 50 trends. Here’s a short example of what I got back: Autonomic Computing, SOA, ebXML, Model-Drive Architecture, Business Process Monitoring, Smart Cards, Storage, Nanotech/MEMS, Micropayments, Biometrics, High Availability, and the list went on. What was interesting was that each of these trends was really important to one or two individuals – to them, it was the big thing.
So, what are the top 3 IT trends?
After a discussion about this issue with Jeff Wacker, I concluded that the problem was the level of abstraction. We need to think about IT trends at a higher level of abstraction. With this approach, the top 3 IT trends may really be: Visibility, Automation and Simplification.
Visibility suggests that IT systems try to provide greater access to information. So, trends such as VoIP, Security and Content management fall in this category.
Automation is about automating the manual and mundane tasks, letting people do something more important. Self-healing, Policy-Based Management and Machine Learning are examples of automation.
Simplification is about making IT less complex for both IT users and IT professionals. Examples of this category include SOA, Model-Driven Architecture and Biometrics.
Now we have our top 3 IT trends: Visibility, Automation and Simplification, which seem to capture the essence of most new IT solutions.
If true, I concluded the following laws for IT trends:
Law 1: IT advances in a direction to provide as much access to information, in as many modes, forms and granularity, as possible.
Law 2: IT advances in a direction to automate as many tasks as possible.
Corollary: When complying with Laws 1 and 2, IT invariably creates unmanageable complexity.
Law 3: IT advances in a direction to simplify itself.
What do YOU think?