I have been thinking about what to write about as predictions for 2012 (since I've been writing these for 6 years now it has become a tradition for me). It does worry me a bit when I looked at the 2005 predictions for the following year and they look more accurate today than they did for 2006. Rather than focus on the obvious trends that organizations are going to embrace (there are many posts out there from others that will cover those), I’d rather look at the nuances that will make this trends interesting to businesses.
Having said that, I will try to cover the obvious technology trends in one paragraph. World Wide IT spend is expected to hit $2.7 Trillion, with the emerging markets like China and India bringing on a significant amount of new consumers (and therefore the target of much of the research and development spend). Cloud techniques will be advancing the cause of IT “industrialization”, adding the advantages of more automation and flexibility for those who plan effectively. Mobile devices will continue to infiltrate all the business processes driven by consumerization pressures. The big data movement will also be embraced by more organizations as they look for increased leverage in the market using information they already have. Finally, Social computing will continue to be adopted internally for business as organizations try to “know what they know” and prepare for the shift in demographics the retirement of the baby boomers and the integration of the Millennials will.... There I’ve covered all the obvious trends that hopefully you can find more information about from other “vision of 2012” posts. Now I’d like to cover some of the implications of these from my perspective.
I firmly believe that 2012 will be a year of disruption (and not just because it may be the end of the Mayan calendar). I believe the main reason this will be so disruptive is because of what has been happening on the innovation front.
There are at least two kinds of innovation: incremental and breakthrough. When enough incremental innovation builds up, it can be disruptive for the organizations trying to catch up. That’s what many in IT will feel in 2012. They’ve wrung much of the waste out of their IT budgets and now need to reinvest to remain relevant to their organizations. They will invest in technologies that are unlike those they’ve been keeping on life support and the introduction of the new technology will disrupt their portfolio.
On the social front, I really doubt that Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in and Google+ will survive in their current form through the end of the year. At least one of them will undergo some significant change and their adoption by business will be brought into question. I am on the fence about Linked-In since it has a fairly loyal following and seems to be more focused, but as we’ve seen with MySpace those advantage can be easily lost and some consolidation and differentiation are in order. The current dilution of attention between the existing bigger players just isn’t likely to continue.
In software development, we’re going to see the revitalization of CASE tool techniques in the enterprise to enable cross-platform development, hiding the complexities and taking advantage of the capabilities of parallel processing, GPU development and support for multiple mobile platforms, driven by the bring-your-own-device-to-work pressure amoung other diversity drivers. This is going to cause some concern for the “I don’t need a degree to program” group and there will be some gnashing of teeth in the marketplace, but the drivers for the shift are clear. It will also enable more elastic development techniques and significantly shift the manpower equation for development, causing some stress for the low-cost development shops.
In the analytics space, there will be a shift away from “analysis” into higher level derivation techniques. Complex event processing will have a resurgence as the positive feedback of sensors and sensing will increase the demand for analytics. Edge processing will be pushed further into the field. There will likely be a backlash though for one of the most commonly mentioned analytics applications – programmed trading on the stock exchange, with various techniques to try and slow things down from what can be modeled and executed into something where people can have greater control.
On the hardware front we’re going to see a stratification of technology with more GPU, low-power processors and new levels of the (now) traditional multi-core processors. There will likely be some significant announcements on the quantum computing front, but nothing in 2012 having significant commercial impact. What this separation of the computing hardware side will do is bring into question some of the current cloud computing approaches, which are relatively homogeneous in nature. The floods in Thailand will ripple through the IT industry and have a significant impact on the supply chain thinking across multiple industries. The big shifts in the storage space technology are likely a year or more away, but we could hear quite a bit of discussion about disruptive technologies for storage futures by the end of the year.
The disruption in cloud computing will be extensive. Those early adopters have now learned their lessons and will be starting on their 2nd generation deployments. The growth of cloud brokers will expand as the market understands what is really needed to coordinate and make a cloud deployment deliver the flexibility required. The need for higher levels of integration in cloud solutions will also become more apparent as the industry vertical capabilities expand and the financial issues of cloud computing in production become clearer.
For the desktop, 2012 will be the year of Windows 8. There will be a great deal of discussion about the shift of the interface and its effect on productivity. In the end, the lag in upgrades for Windows over the years will come into play and force many organizations to move forward. Enterprise deployments will be delayed significantly though, unless an alternative user interface for the enterprise class users is embedded in Windows 8. The tablet market will continue to grow and the confusion operating system based camps will continue to entrench their positions, forcing enterprise organizations to develop in more platform independent ways. Enterprise apps stores will also be a focal point, in an attempt to tame the consumerization appetite.
Having said all that, it is a great time to be in IT. Most of our concerns are currently driven by an overabundance of capabilities that most organizations have not tapped into effectively. Those who can have the vision will be in for quite a ride this year as they look to do more with more.