The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Grading my predictions for 2014

grading predictions.pngEach year about this time I look back at the prediction post I made the previous year December (200620072008200920102011, 2012, 2013). I didn’t do predictions the first year I blogged but have managed to do one every year since.

 

Now it is time to look at 2014. I said that 2014 was going to be a year of instability. Depending on what industry sector or organization you’re in that was definitely true – but that’s the kind of easy prediction any fortune teller could make. Let’s get into the details:

 

I’ll grade myself with the following scale again this year:

A: Big changes during the year that are having wide effect.

B: Notable progress through the year and isolated areas of significant impact.

C: Progress with some impact

D: Little progress or impact – but work still taking place

F: No progress or the concept abandoned in any commercial sense.

 

Grade

Prediction

Rational

B

Shift from commodity services to a value play

This is definitely happening but slower than I thought it would.

C

Relationships shifting up the stack (from IaaS to Paas or SaaS to business services)

Although business-based outcomes are becoming common, there is still more smoke than fire here.

C

Similarly the view of BYOD will shift to more of a services perspective.

This one I also give myself mixed reviews. Although the BYOD momentum has shifted to more services, we are still not seeing real security brokerage services or other high value services in a standardized form.

A

New style of business

We have definitely seen much more discussion about the business capabilities and new needs provided by new computing capabilities. The concept of a race with the machine has definitely gained in mind share in 2014. Although the self-aware enterprise is still a long way off.

B

Wearables

I have mixed feelings on this rating. Although you can’t throw a rock and not hit someone coming to market with a new wearable device, they are not being effectively embraced in business processes and enterprise user interface design. They are also not yet forming networks of functionality.

B

Software defined anything

The open approaches of   OpenStack for Cloud OS and OpenFlow for software defined networking have definitely come into their own in 2014. There are still distractors who are fighting this rising tide but most see where this is headed and incorporating the shift into their mental model.

B

Software and analytics

2014 has definitely been the year for big data and analytics buzz words. I don’t think it has come to the point of there being widespread embracing of systems of action. Mobile is still viewed as something special and not just one of the many the interface points by most working in the ‘mobile’ space.

D

Software portfolio assessment

Of all the prediction areas, a fundamental reassessment of the software portfolio against the revised needs of the business, is an area where we’ve most missed our potential in 2014. Most organizations have not shifted to a holistic environmental perspective that will empower the organization and enable them to empower others. Organizations still need to assess what is abundant in this new world and maximize value from what will still be scarce for them and others.

A

Engaged and motivated employees will still be scarce

This is definitely true. In this age of automation, the value of good people and a predictable talent creation pipeline may actually be more important than ever. People are not fungible and as we increase our automation, that will be even more true, not less.

 

Based on these scores, my predictions for 2014 were at least not too conservative. My personal goal is to get close to a C+. If I get too high a grade, I am not trying to stretch my thinking (or yours for that matter) enough. Maybe I should strive to stretch enough to get at least one D??

 

My view is the same as when I finished up my post in 2011:

 

“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.”

 

I should have my predictions for 2015 out later in December.

 

 

Services and outcomes – what does the business really need?

 

choices.jpgAlmost every IT and service organization is looking at where to focus their operational energies in order to remain relevant in the new style of business that is expected today.  Each of us are constrained by our own preconceptions of service management and how it has traditionally and should be measured.

 

Recently, HP produced a paper titled: Link Services to Outcomes that tackles this issue. I am not sure that it went far enough, to drive home the value and shift in behavior and perspective that’s required.

 

I see situations all the time where an organization tries to straddle the line between traditional IT SLAs and more agile IT approaches without ever shifting the measures of success to what business really need – business-based service level.

 

These new kind of partnering efforts need to look for KPIs that the business cares about – the position paper does provide a few of those examples. These need to be key measures of the performance of the business. Another thing the paper brings forward are a few questions you need to ask yourself about your business and what approach it will accept. Is your organization:

  • Mature enough to deploy and fully use an outcomes-oriented service environment?
  • Willing to invest the time and resources needed to align IT and the business model?
  • Able to create and continually use the necessary metrics, thresholds, and reporting systems?

And that is not even covering the issues in the legal and purchasing spaces.

 

One thing that is interesting is how this business measures approach is almost the exact opposite of the public cloud-based service approach where there are few guarantees and the services providers actually don’t want to know anything about your business – at least how it is implemented today. Legal and purchasing may not be involved.

 

I sometimes wonder if those who are committed to one camp or another can see the world from the other perspective or is it totally outside their context.

 

 

Diversity of perspective is needed for IoT efforts

 

crayon.pngLately I’ve been coming across more articles like this one that states: 12 Hurdles Hampering the Internet of Things. It is definitely the case that there are positives and negatives for every new technology. In a previous post: Preventing the IoT from being the Oort cloud of the enterprise, I provided a few of some of these challenges.

 

I realized that there was not much about maximizing the positive benefits and minimizing the negatives. Diversity of perspective plays an important role – after all if we’re all thinking about the problem in the same way, only one of us is really needed. To tackle this problems you need individuals who look at both the business implications and the technology.

 

Like a successful market system, the innovation process has two dynamics: supply and demand. Supply is the reserve of ideas. It’s generated when leadership creates an environment that encourages those in the enterprise ecosystem to bring new ideas forward, to question the status quo. It comes from employees who live and work in that setting.

 

Demand is the organizational expectation of improvement. It’s the process of setting objectives and ensuring that everyone is clear on how they will be measured. It’s about establishing expectations to ‘do even more with more’ using the abundance of capabilities available.

 

For the Internet of Things you need different views on security, those who want to make the most out of the data for good and those who can see the implications of its improper use.

 

I was talking with some folks the other day about completing a Proof of Concept and mentioned to them that a PoC should be designed around answering questions. Sometimes the answers are yes and other times no. They shouldn’t view it as a failure if they don’t get the answer they wanted. The fact that they know something now rather than basing their perspective on supposition means the PoC was a success (even that knowledge can be fleeting though because there is so much change in capability today). Strive for better questions and let the answers fall where they may. Finding the lines is more important than coloring within them.

 

 

Enterprise Automation: a cure for matrix management woes?

 

automated decisions.pngMatrix management came about to increase communications, flexibility and collaboration between the various parts of an organization. In the process, some people view that it has increased the latency in decision making and the ability of organizations to respond quickly to situations.

In a recent HBR article, Tom Peters wrote about moving Beyond the matrix organization. In the article, he talked about the issues matrix organization structures are trying to address and the various unintended consequences.

 

We have new tools today that can address communications, flexibility and collaboration (among other characteristics) that didn’t exist when the concept of matrix management was formed. The article states:

 

“Under the time-honored principle of management by exception, the organization runs itself until divergence from plan triggers off a warning signal. However, in today’s complex organizations, equipped with overly elaborate planning and control systems, warning signals are constantly being triggered. Giving the attention of top management to each (the implicit consequence of matrix structure) means dissipating the company’s sense of direction.”

 

These seems to be exactly the kind of issue that cognitive computing techniques and automation could be applied, sifting through these triggers and handling the ones that are understood and focusing our creativity on those that actually could benefit – we have the compute power. The alerts coming from these systems would not be distractions, but opportunities. We’re seeing exactly these techniques enabling cloud computing, enabling leveraging of large arrays of resources. Now it just needs to be expanded into the rest of the enterprise.

 

 

Hype fatigue

Recently there has been quite a bit of press about over-hyped technologies. Gartner came out with a list of their top 10 back in August. They also included a discussion of frameworks for these technologies:

  • IoT and operational technologies
  • Mobile Infrastructure
  • Enterprise Mobility Management
  • Analytics
  • Big Data
  • Social
  • Cloud

I actually think a few of those overlap but it’s their article. I was also surprised that security didn’t make the list but maybe they view that security needs to permeate the whole environment. Dr. Dobbs also came out with their own post of Overhyped things. Not a new topic, since I did a post on over-hype back in 2007.

 

Now that we’re into the last quarter of the year, we’re going to start seeing more game-changing technology trend articles. Even the IEEE has their own Top Tech Trends for 2014 article.

 

One thing that concerns me is that so many of these trends are just reworked analysis of those same article from the past. Are there no new trends? Or are we just tired of change and it is easier to just repackage stuff. I’ll have to give this some thought before I do my annual trends to look out for in December for 2015 post.

 

I also wonder if we shouldn’t look at the entire life cycle, not just the hype cycle -- even though there never seems to be extinction in this business.

 

entire lifecycle.png

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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