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.






Shift from commodity services to a value play

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


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



Rethinking future services and the application portfolio

applications.pngAreas changing within business and IT include the movement away from dedicated hardware for applications, as well as the concept of dedicated applications themselves. In order for these changes to be truly successful there are a number of factors to be addressed.


Today there are a wealth of software providers that supply intellectual property to address business problems (e.g., ERP solutions). Although some support more flexible access methods (e.g., SaaS), they are still rigid in what they make available to the business itself. The problems are viewed as IT and not what the business needs. In order for these service providers to address the specific needs of an organization, greater service integration flexibility is required. This allows for real integration of business processes, meeting the businesses unique needs. IT that supports those business processes may come from many different sources.


This flexibility will require greater data transport capabilities and analytics, turning generic processing into business differentiation. This movement of data outside the control of a service provider is the bane of most as-a-service solutions, yet when you think about it – whose data is it??


To meet the needs of the system users, greater platform independent support is required. This will allow the integration of generic business processes into a context specific solution that can be used by the various business roles to make better business decisions. Since the mobile interface is the enterprise interface going forward, placing the information in the context of the user is critical, on the device the user is actually using. Or if the response is well understood facilitating the systems of action needed to predict and respond to business events.


This also means that custom application configuration capabilities will be critical. Rather than having 3rd generation programmers handcrafting new behaviors into the system, standards and tools for customization will be required. Application configuration capabilities will improve the time to market and reduce the maintenance costs -- relying on business-oriented graphical modeling to aggregate functionality from across the portfolio of capabilities. Social capabilities and gamification support will be built into these customization capabilities. This mass-customized contextual portfolio approach is the antithesis of what leveraged service providers enable today.


One of the biggest detriments (at least from my perspective) of the dot com era was the view that everyone can code. These coders can do that in a 3rd generation language like Java (or JavaScript for that matter). And finally, that coders actually understand user interface and business process automation design (and security). I don’t think we can afford to put up with these views any longer. The changes in how computing works and is delivered as well the complex possibilities enabled by the abundance of IT capabilities don’t allow it. There has been work to leverage experts and hide complexity over the years, yet most organizations take advantage of very little of this work. It’s time that we move on.

Agile Manager Beta

170px-Kampffisch_betta_splendenscele4.jpgI just heard of a new beta HP software service called Agile Manager. In beta through November 30, 2012.


HP Agile Manager is a SaaS-based solution for organizing, planning and executing agile projects. It is purpose-built and designed specifically to serve agile teams. It leverages a native cloud architecture for instant-on access and boasts a clean, intuitive design offering technology innovations that minimize latency, aids the adoption of agile practices and fosters continuous improvement. There is even an Agile Manager support community to collaborate with others learning about the service.


Some key features:

  • Advanced visualization for easy planning, task allocation, and capacity management
  • Comprehensive analytics and real-time visibility into code, quality, and progress
  • Seamless IDE integration so developers can work in the environment they prefer
  • Insight across projects, teams, and geographies to successfully scale agile efforts

I’ve not had my hands on it yet myself, but it does sound interesting, since I’ve been using agile techniques since long before the term agile was applied to software development.

New phone, new opportunities

mobile gears.pngI recently switch my smartphone over to an ATT Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket. This is a very impressive, capable and versatile device. I’ve only started to delve into writing software for it, since my background is more Windows mobile than Android.


I had one of the early Windows mobile devices back in the early part of this century (~2001) and used it to watch movies, read books, send emails… So I was a bit surprised to see a post from Mike Lachtanski saying that Smartphone video-viewing isn’t ready for prime time.  


I’m taking an on-line course from Coursera on gamification right now and watch most of the lectures on my smartphone – while on the treadmill or stationary bike. It may be that I am just more tolerant than most of the small screen, but I love the ability to consume media anywhere.


Since smartphones are the computer we have with us all the time, they are the target enterprise organizations should use for first deployment of business functionality. Mobile devices can augment our capabilities and take latency out of our response to events. The BYOD movement has complicated the development and deployment but with modern development tools, it’s well within the reach of almost any organization. With SaaS, we are likely to see that the SMB market will have mobile capabilities early (if not first) since it will be backed into the services

Is Bring Your Own Service the Future?

BYOS.pngI was talking with someone about the problems facing the CIOs of the future. With all the emphasis on consumerization and more recently Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in IT, the enterprise environment of the future could easily turn into a Bring Your Own Service (BYOS) to work (naturally when I did a Google search someone had already coined BYOS).


I mentioned a few weeks ago that a technical leader for large global services organization said that all applications will be pulled together by end users in the future – I hope he was just exaggerating by the way. He clearly sees this BYOS world as something he is planning on. His thinking though was still limited to IT.


If we even get close to this kind of environment where users create tools and relationships, then leave the organization (or even move on within the organization) and expect others to support what they built (we’ve seen before with Excel and Microsoft Access – both extremely useful tools), the IT team could easily end up being forced to support something that was done off the cuff by amateurs and then evolved into a mission critical tool. Can this happen with other parts of the business as well?


It the past I would have said that it was an enterprise governance issue. Now I wonder if it is more of an architecture issue. Can we architect flexibility into the system so that it is easier to develop, monitor and more importantly maintain these kinds of systems?  I doubt that anything that smacks of a peer review will be supported by the user community.


As IT organizations look to a future of greater service orientation, they should look for service orientation of the enterprise as a whole on not just IT. IT has cloud and SaaS as examples from its domain but service orientation techniques can be broadened to other parts of the business. In the future we may not be talking about IT devices or bringing LinkedIn information services into the enterprise but other non-core services like manufacturing, distribution, HR… depending on the organization. 


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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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