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Technology research agency Gartner have hit headlines recently with their 2013 CIO Priorities predictions list, but a little-read report regarding technology market forces makes for interesting study, too. In it, Gartner suggest that the future of technology markets can be summed up by the action of four forces: cloud, social, mobile and information. Let’s go through each of these, and suggest the impact they might have on the imminent future of technology.
Cloud computing is no longer a young technology. Cloud Industry Forum reckons it’ll be deployed in more than 75 percent of UK businesses by the end of 2013, with 80 percent increasing cloud computing spending. Gartner, for their part, reckon that the 2013 cloud computing market will be worth around $150 billion, and CloudStack have discovered that 61 percent of global organisations are in the planning or implementation stages of some kind of cloud computing framework. Cloud is big, and the major impact is on how we store, access and compute data. In the past, all of those things have had to be done on the local client, which makes for chunkier hardware. Eliminating the hard drive and much of the processing overhead would leave device space for bigger batteries, or simply allow for a reduction in laptop bodyshell sizes. We’re already seeing this emerge: ultrabooks are the new standard form-factor, and companies’ laptop computer lines are reflecting that fact.
Social media, too, has come of age (in the advertising industry, at least). The Huffington Post, in collaboration with iStrategyLabs, reports that a million websites have integrated with Facebook alone, with 80 percent of users preferring the ‘Like’ connection they can make with brands on Facebook to conventional conversion routes, such as e-mail newsletter sign-ups or product purchases. Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and the recently-slighted Instagram make up the rest of the current social crop, with specialised communities (such as Dribbble and Forrst) cropping up to cater for niche social groups.
Mobile traffic is huge, and Microsoft Tag think that mobile internet usage will overtake desktops before 2015. Looking at the enormous rates of tablet traffic, we’d be surprised if the humble desktop endured until 2014. Mobile coupons get 1000 percent of the redemption rate of their traditional counterparts (according to SMS Marketing), and 91 percent of all US citizens keep their mobile device to hand 24/7. Combine this with social media marketing and cloud, and we begin to have a recipe for exciting opportunity. But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves.
‘Information’ is not a general-purpose term. Here, Gartner are talking about Big Data, or the total surfeit of information about any kind of query you might want to run. In specific, Forbes says Big Data refers to “methods and technologies that help businesses and individuals make better decisions by analyzing large data volumes and predicting probable outcomes”. Hook it into cloud, and you don’t even need chunky machines to help with the analysis. Feed it social media data, and you have an incredibly powerful consumer trend analysis tool. And push it mobile, and you have access to deeply insightful data-based advice at a moment’s notice, helping the world to make better decisions.
The Nexus of Forces model, though exciting when looked at component-by-component, becomes truly thrilling when considered together. Gartner’s Webinar is available to subscribers, but some key features include:
- Pursuing one of the forces is insufficient. You can’t do mobile unless you have cloud. You can’t analyse Big Data without the insights of social media. And you can’t market your mobile hardware without all of the above. Skillfully investing and targeting opportunities at the intersection of these four industries will stand businesses in exceptionally god stead over the next few years.
- Legacy approaches to IT, including existing architectures, strategies, structures and implementations, are now entirely obsolete. The efficiency, savings and holistic impact of the four forces disrupt a wide range of industries (Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Sales, R&D, Project Management), offering solutions that vastly supersede extant approaches to common problems. Organisations should not be blasé towards the full impact of this, and must endeavour to modernise as rapidly as possible.
- The impact of each of these forces individually is insignificant in comparison to their combined impact. This means that businesses need to prepare their customers for what Gartner terms a “Nexus-centric view”, a process that may involve significant investment in customer and client education. This is holistically part of the gathering pace of technological change at the moment: customers will be more comfortable presented with whole-person solutions than individual technology marketing.
- Be careful with your cash. The market is moving so rapidly, so fluidly, and is so frequently experiencing significant disruption that “winners and losers will emerge fast”. Hedge your bets and go with the “existing dominant IT vendors”, whose established status, purchasing power and R&D budgets will give them greater stability in a time of rapid market fluctuation.