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Tech for Tomorrow

Doug Mow

A 2012 Introspective - The Excitement Continues

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The tech world this year has been like many others; in fact better than most. The blistering pace of technology advancement continues despite the world's economic troubles. If we all think back to 2011 we will each recall a set of what we consider to be the defining moments and characteristics of the year, each outlining our interpretation of that progress. Here are some of mine, with my own point of view of technology trends and the customer experience. 


2011 the year of Tablets, Smartphones and More

As we entered 2011 we anticipated the year of the tablet. By mid-year we were besieged with commercials for the Samsung Galaxy Tab.  And the HP and RIM tablets were highly anticipated. Best Buy sales promotions touted the Motorola Xoom as the slickest device available. Now? HP tablets are in the "discontinued bin". RIM wrote off close to $500 million and among my colleagues, I've seen one Playbook and one Tab. Apple's iPad continues to rule supreme but, Amazon's Kindle Fire has entered the race. Designed to consume content, this device is definitely a serious contender but must overcome significant initial shortcomings.


Verizon's 4GLTE was heralded as the next coming. In some ways it has been. My 4GLTE mobile hotspot is faster than my landline cable modem from @Comcast. Verizon has lit far more areas by now than I would have thought. But the service is a little spotty. The line drops, the wi-fi connection goes up and down and sometimes it doesn't seem to work at all. Typical of V1.0, but I have no regrets. There is now high speed internet virtually everywhere. (If you have not invested in a 4GLTE phone yet, the rumors of short battery life are all true.)


Android handsets now exceed iPhones. The Apple community continues to be fiercely loyal despite not having the iPhone 5. The iPhone 4S was met with a similar market reaction to the iPad - derision, disappointment, disdain. But then sales soared.  More evidence that resistance is futile.  Steve Jobs's untimely death may have increased brand loyalty many times.


Smartphones continue their inexorable march forward in numbers and functionality. Gartner predicts that by 2013 mobile devices will overtake PC's as the most common web access device. That seems conservative. Smartphone shipments combined with tablets (iPads), will cause Windows market share to slip to 50% of all devices (behind Android and Apple) by 2015. While that does not predict the demise of the Wintel platform it is certainly a far different picture than it was four or five years ago.


Corporate Observations

Some corporate observations and then on to the requisite prognostications for next year:

Comcast closed the NBC deal but that acquisition seems to be less impactful than Rupert Murdoch's purchase of the Wall Street Journal.

The proposed ATT purchase of T-Mobile looks like the @Verizon lobbyists won. That deal is being scrapped.

The HP drama continues. Someday there will be a television series about that company. Now, Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO and California Governor wannabe is the CEO.

LinkedIn, Pandora and Groupon all went public. Of those, LinkedIn is has been the most successful. All hail Reid Hoffman.

Oracle bought RightNow. After his Open World snub of Marc Benioff this looked like Larry taking dead aim at Salesforce.com. But then SAP bought SuccessFactors and IBM bought DemandTech. Was it a snub or are they all buying into the cloud as fast as they can?

At the consumer level, Google introduced Google Music and Google+. Apple introduced an improved iCloud. DropBox and Evernote gain popularity as practical applications leveraging cloud technology.



Looking at Today

So, what are we faced with today? U.S. unemployment remains relatively high at 8.6% while markets seem to have recovered. We are in the midst of a fundamental restructuring of the economy where technology is indistinguishable from the business.


Forrester Research calls it the shift from IT to BT, information technology to business technology. This past fall, Gartner analysts berated CIO's imploring them to "Reimagine IT." The common theme is there is no longer IT, there is only business. IT must stop obstructing and start facilitating or be reduced to electronic record keeping. What is the evidence and how do we know if that is true? The evidence is the redeployment of the technology budget from IT to the line of business. With all the SaaS and cloud offerings available to end users with a credit card the business can go out and do it themselves. IT budgets are going down but technology spend is going up. The other evidence will be the number of applications that exist in a given enterprise. Gartner predicts that the number of applications engaged by enterprises will increase by 10% over the next year. To me, that seems low.


Predictions for the Future

The form factor is shape shifting. And with new capabilities like location based services and context aware computing (all names that I believe will eventually vanish like "horse drawn carriage") we are entering the most innovative era of computing ever. The graphic, mouse based UI is twenty years old. The world's median age is 29 years old. Mobilewalla has announced that there are now 1,000,000 mobile apps available. Cloud computing is maturing to the point that all devices are simply a window into a vast universe of compute capabilities, applications and entertainment. Two gaming companies, OnLive and GaiKai, are introducing cloud based gaming for mobile devices. Enterprise applications will live in the cloud and can be accessed from any device in any location. How will we know? How much time will you spend on your non-PC device next year for work? One year from now, will applications look more like apps or mouse driven point and click?


Independent Software Vendors will hedge their bets and continue acquiring cloud based companies. Looking at the Oracle, SAP and IBM acquisitions, this one is pretty easy. The implication is these companies realize they cannot build it themselves. They certainly have the resources to do it but have not been able to deliver. How will we know? The number of acquisitions will increase. The venerable ISV's will also start embracing the SaaS model but that will not happen until 2017.  The other telling sign will be the number of partnerships between companies trying to offer a complete solution.  Meanwhile, Salesforce.com is pursuing the ten billion dollar revenue mark.


The IT community will become increasingly fractured. Similar to anti-smoking in the 1980s, some/most will quit, others will stubbornly continue. Those who quit will be the CIO's that enable the business, facilitate change and participate in the business. Those who continue to smoke will be the "server hugger" community that bases their value on the environment they protect. How will we know? The percentage of CIO's coming from a line of business background will increase and they will statistically outperform those from a technology background. Watch for the Gartner, Forrester, IDC or IBM study on the same.


Cloud continues its seductive siren. But, most vendors will continue to struggle to articulate business value beyond TCO reduction. Yes, those are the table stakes but cloud has so much more to offer. Improved availability, security and control. Elasticity, scalability and efficiency. The public vs. private debate will continue to rage. Hopefully we will not see disasters like the Japanese tsunami or the tornado in Joplin, Missouri but there will be global events that will test the cloud concept. How will we know? Look for one huge, major outage next year and then witness the reaction from the public vs. private vendors. How will they respond?


There has never been a more exciting time in our industry. The possibilities are endless. Can you imagine telling your grandchildren that we had to plug in our phones to charge them every night? Terms like cloud computing and SaaS will be laughable. It might not even be called "computing". It just is. Here's looking forward to another incredible year in our industry. Let's all go out and make it happen.

Doug Mow blogs from a business executive's perspective about IT trends, tech news and life in the trenches of an Enterprise 2.0 transformation.

Doug Mow

#CMO of Courion Corporation responsible for all branding, communications, messaging, online and offline marketing. Courion is the leading provider of access management tools that provide maximum access to corporate IT assets with minimal risk.

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