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Tech predictions for 2014
It's tech predictions time of year again. Even though nobody can really predict the future, anticipating what might come next is an important part of fashioning a competitive business. By understanding our current influences and where they might take us, we're in a better position to respond to future opportunities and challenges as they present themselves—no matter what they are.
Influencers originate in the real world
"Most IT development is in response to social trends. We need to be conscious of this when viewing the future," says Kas Kasravi, an HP Fellow.
In Kasravi's view, influencers come in two classes: forces and restrainers. Forces are typically positive, such as the new generation entering the workforce with totally different expectations, or the re-burgeoning eco-awareness, along with a shift from cost cutting to innovation. On the other hand, restrainers are working in the opposite direction and limiting IT development. These include things like political instabilities, natural disasters, and the human tendency to resist change.
"Our next state is really defined by a balance between the forces and the restrainers," continues Kasravi.
With that in mind, we sat down two HP Fellows, Charlie Bess and Kas Kasravi, to get their take on what's to come in enterprise IT in 2014.
Bring your own Service
Bess sees a shift from focusing on devices and networks to what's flowing between those two things.
"Now that organizations are starting to get a handle on BYOD, it is likely Bring Your Own Service (storage, analytics, and the like) will start to introduce a whole new set of issues into the IT space," says Bess. "People are using their devices for capabilities that, by their very nature, will take corporate information outside the walls of the enterprise."
Bess recommends that organizations shift focus from devices to information access by establishing clear expectations for end users—and that means clear policy and a means of enforcing it.
Next generation automation
Increasing data, complexity, budget constraints—these things will not be diminishing in the coming year, if ever. IT must respond by building systems to help conserve its most precious resource: time.
The result is the continued use of automation, focusing on increasingly sophisticated operational tasks. Bess refers to this as "human augmented automation" and writes about the possibility of automation much of middle management in this post on The Next Big Thing Blog. Bess includes software development in the scope of automation targets, especially as systems continue to increase in complexity.
Kas foresees a need to rely on systems with non-linear and non-deterministic capabilities. In other words, systems that can identifying insight. That means automating decision making, which requires machines that can learn, anticipate, and evolve to automate complex decisions.
The upshot is that employees can then, theoretically, focus on business activities that involve creativity and innovation.
Contextual analytics and knowledge management
Processes for dealing with data will shift from gathering, storing, and moving it around, to what conditions created the data in the first place—that means a focus on context.
"People don't make decisions from data," says Bess. "Instead, it's the context the data describes that enables better and more timely decisions."
Bess ties this to the automation trend in terms of freeing up staff to refocus on more valuable, creative activities. He explains, "automating decisions that are well understood allows people to focus on the anomalies—the things that they can turn into opportunities and allow businesses to do more."
Kasravi sees context as an important factor in next-generation knowledge management. He says "it's about what people know, how that creates relationships among people who don't even know each other, finding experts within an organization." To maximize potential, organizations need to develop systems that can understand this context to leverage diverse knowledge across organizations by making the right connections among people.
Software-defined... well, everything
Organizations have only just begun to understand software-defined networks, let alone other data center components. That means we've only just begun to see the possibilities of this emerging technology.
"The flexibility that software-defined networking will provide and the new capabilities it enables will allow for new types of applications. We can shift the capabilities of computing beyond just acting on data at rest, to acting on data in motion," says Bess. By understanding more clearly what's flowing through the pipes, IT administrators and business people alike can respond to it faster.
Kasravi sees software-defined-X as a key tool to handling the current and upcoming challenges of IT by freeing ourselves from physical devices. Kasravi notes software-defined as a key to integrating many of the current IT trends, such as mobility and BYOD, and handling every increasing complexity. "We're putting a distance between ourselves the actual hardware by introducing this virtual nether layer that is easier to control," he says.
The common theme is modernization
Regardless of where organizations are individually when it comes to adopting the above trends or still struggling with last year's, all are still trudging along the path to modernization. Dealing with legacy systems continues to be a shared challenge among organizations of all sizes. Eventually, modernization must happen.
That's why it's important to share and discuss our thoughts on current and future trends and how to respond to them. Get involved in some of the HP communities below: