2015: The year reality outpaces hype in business technology

Predictions about what’s actually going to happen in business technology during 2015.

©iStock.com/retrorocket

©iStock.com/retrorocket

IT industry New Year predictions in any of the past three years would have cited the ‘final coming’ of the much-hyped trends of cloud, mobility, big data, <yawn!>, etc. 

But 2014 saw the first two, at least, reach their ‘tipping points’ in terms of Australian adoption – with evidential research confirming that what industry analysts and vendors predicted would become mainstream has (finally) become mainstream.

So, putting specific technologies aside, how can IT dig deeper into the fundamental objectives of the organisations it serves in 2015?

IT departments and the business will get on the same page.

Recent years have seen the technology dollar increasingly spent by business units directly with suppliers – AKA ‘credit card IT’. 

I see this trend increasing inexorably – but in 2015 enterprises will (hopefully) recognise that the IT organisation has a significant role to play in overseeing the trend. 

It’s about finding an equilibrium, with the business having more confidence in IT’s ability. To earn this confidence, the IT team must step up to the plate – transforming from ‘traffic policeman’ (or roadblock!) to co-driver and expert navigator, in order to remain relevant along the journey to innovation and competitive difference.

Enterprise IT will become a Services Integrator.

The enterprise IT department will become less a technology provider and more a customer-centric services integrator.

Over the past decade, IT has been outsourced or commoditised without the enterprise really understanding the cost – and with outcomes insufficiently aligned to what the business and its users really want and need. 

There’s way too much blood on the carpet so this has to change: unfulfilled (unattainable) ROI, loss of truly valuable internal resources, bitter contract disputes and unproductive finger-pointing. 

In 2015, the winners will be those that understand the disconnect – and that success lies in engaging partners on an outcome rather than technology delivery model by building change into every arrangement, then skilfully managing these relationships throughout their lifecycle.

SIAM will become the place to be.

Supporting the above trend, I foresee a rewarding and invaluable role for the IT department that embraces the Service Integration and Management (SIAM) model to transform stock-standard ITIL service delivery. 

Simply put, SIAM involves applying a filter between multiple service providers and the user, in order to effectively align deliverables with expectations. 

2015 got off to a great start with the publication of standards: An introduction to Service Integration and Management and ITIL®

Watch this space… because, while it’s still emerging as a model, innovative large enterprises are seriously considering SIAM right now.

Hybrid will become Cloud of Choice.

Cloud First, a strategy notably adopted by many government and commercial enterprises during 2013-14, will be tempered in 2015 by the understanding that all-Private or all-Public is simply not on. 

Hybrid Cloud is the only practical option for the medium-large enterprise – especially those holding customer or sensitive data – and the best way to provision the full range of core and non-core, in-house and outsourced application delivery that the business now demands.

Data sovereignty will become less of an issue for Australians.

A major brake on cloud adoption was location of data. 

As well as Amazon Web Services having operated here since late 2012, the IBM SmartCloud is available now at a data centre near you and Microsoft will offer Office 365 locally as of March 2015… 

Plus we now have a large choice of native and international data centre specialists delivering high-speed access and interlinks within Australia, so the emphasis is now on brokering appropriately secure, highly available and high performance cloud services and makes off-siting your data centre a practical alternative. 

Increasingly, software vendors are delivering locally via the cloud, so it will become viable for enterprises facing infrastructure upgrades during 2015 to move mainstream applications such as SAP and Oracle to the cloud to reduce CapEx and move to an OpEx model.

‘Digitisation’ will be brought under control.

The pressure to digitise all processes and touchpoints – with users, customers, suppliers – will continue unabated because the benefits can no longer be ignored. 

But enterprises are now recognising that digitisation must be properly governed, with greater emphasis on security, privacy and compliance with statutory and enterprise process best practices – not to mention user experience benchmarks that cater for those not fortunate to have been ‘born digital’. 

There’s no way of putting genie back in the bottle, but it needs to be taught some manners! This necessitates the IT department taking the lead in developing and applying standards on data interchange and applying them to both new and existing apps and online services. 

UXC has outlined the two solutions here: An Agile PMO and SIAM, as recommended in this white paper on managing a two-speed environment.

Mobility First is the new mandate.

The mobility trend is unstoppable and – given always-on Gen Y and Z now represent 40% (and growing) of the workforce – BYOD and collaboration anywhere, anytime is not going away… 

So it’s time for bars to be lifted on enterprise application access with effective security controls to be cemented in place. 

2015 must see a psychological break from the desk-bound desktop model of delivering IT – with the key being reliable document collaboration and authentication. Innovative enterprises are deploying proven technologies for digitising document signatures and automating collaboration and communication processes in 2015. 

Don’t forget, it’s not just about mobilising your workforce; it’s about mobilising your business for your customers. If you’d like to understand the mobile vision and opportunities, check out this Silicon Valley blog

Want to dabble in tech stocks? Keep your eye on this year’s outstanding mobility-related early IPOs including cloud-sharing Box and DocuSign.

Communications has crashed through the roof.

Any enterprise refreshing its voice infrastructure in 2015 and not looking at a pay-by-use service-based solution in 2015 has rocks in its head. 

Thanks to fatter internet pipes, traditional video conferencing solutions have also been superseded, so you can dump your costly capital investment and hardware/software maintenance burden in them as well. Given consumers are abandoning landlines for mobiles, how many of your users actually need dedicated handsets? 

Enterprise communications and collaboration are now commoditised via the internet and embedded in the cloud; making investment in dedicated internal infrastructure seem so very 20th century!

Business technology is an eternally fascinating topic, but what it all comes down to is proven business value. 

Success will only be evidenced in how Australian enterprises and their IT departments accept the inevitable social change we’re in the midst of and change the way they’ve traditionally done things to meet new challenges. 

We're pretty confident in these predictions for 2015 – but would love to get your own comments and feedback!