Gartner says the following are the megatrends:
- MOBILE DEVICES BATTLES
- MOBILE APPS AND HTML5
- PERSONAL CLOUD
- THE INTERNET OF THINGS
- HYBRID IT AND CLOUD COMPUTING
- STRATEGIC BIG DATA
- ACTIONABLE ANALYTICS
- MAINSTREAM IN-MEMORY COMPUTING (IMC)
- INTEGRATED ECOSYSTEMS
- ENTERPRISE APP STORES
I am going to focus on the last 2 Megatrends in their list but I wanted to put my 2Cents into the other 8. Your comments are also welcome. You can ignore the first few paragraphs if you want to reach my more meaty comments on Integrated Ecosystems and Enterprise App Stores. What I want to talk about is how controversial each of these trends are and trends they may have underestimated or not considered. I also want to look at how disruptive each of these are. Disruption to me means that it changes the playing field for every business potentially disrupting businesses that think that life will continue unaffected by all this technological change when the very foundation of their business is being changed. Some of these trends that Gartner points out are more “disruptive” and some are just business as usual.
Gartner is clearly putting mobile first and I think there is merit to that. The first 2 items on their list have to do with mobile standards. Frankly I don’t believe number 1 (the battles over supremacy of the mobile devices) is really of concern now or in the next couple years for most enterprises and is not disruptive. Enterprises are going to implement for both IOS and ANDROID. For a significant 3rd player to emerge in 3 years will take a huge amount of momentum now given the size of the existing market and is largely irrelevant to enterprises anyway since they will implement to whatever is there. The second item (HTML5) is of much greater concern since the evolution of HTML tends to be slow and the devices are improving rapidly I doubt seriously that a standard like that will be able to subsume all the crafty companies who will try to build neat ways to develop for both or more than 2 platforms in other ways and the companies constantly building new capabilities into devices. A single standard for web and mobile development would be a wonderful thing but experience in the world of UI over the years has taught us it is virtually impossible to get agreement on how to build user interfaces. So, I see that HTML5 will gain adherents but will not become the dominant way to build applications in 3 years. It may be part of a general solution or sufficient for some enterprises to use exclusively but it will only be a part of the solution at best. I think those betting on HTML5 being the end all for interfaces is unlikely. If you want a really leading edge app for mobile you will want to look at some of the more crafty MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms). WSO2 is planning to integrate several.
As much as Gartner is focusing on mobile by putting these 2 trends at the top it is missing the fact that the overall Megatrend that is disruptive. Mobile is critical to business survival and whether you are a mom and pop shop or any company you will have to adjust how you do business to accommodate the trend of everything being mobile and the proliferation of mobile applications. Every business will see a massive growth in the number of mobile applications and managing that growth will be a major concern of every enterprise over the next 3 years because each application represents a vector of vulnerability and also a key part of the companies value proposition to its users. The management of all these mini-applications will be more and more of a concern.
Most large companies over the years have many hundreds of applications. The elimination and consolidation of those applications has been a major initiative over the last 20 years at most large companies. Mobile represents a massive disruption in that trend. Mobile applications tend to be focused and therefore there tend to be many more mobile applications with lots of replicated functionality. We will see the growth of thousands of mobile applications at some enterprises. Managing this is a huge problem that organizations are just not thinking about. They are so worried about how to write the applications and the functionality and marketing them they aren’t thinking about how they will deal with the problem of the success of mobile. I believe this is a major problem organizations will need to deal with soon because of the great benefits and risks these applications represent. Therefore the infrastructure for managing that is more crucial than Gartner may have estimated. Handling Mobile Applications differently than enterprise applications and APIs the other major movement (which Gartner also didn’t seem to adequately represent in their list). WSO2 has a leadership position in building the infrastructure for this because we are the only company offering an open source platform that is mobile integrated in every aspect. This gives the enterprise visibility and manageability of all these higher level enterprise assets. Gartner’s item 10 may be a partial answer to my critique of their missing this Megatrend.
Items 3 and 4 on their list has to do with personal involvement with the cloud and services in the cloud. I really believe they have this mostly right as well. I have been making the move more and more to cloud based applications and data so my personal cloud usage is well on the road and I believe everyone is experiencing some of this. As an example, over 5 years ago I started using Yelp’s ability to store partial reviews as a way to store data about wines and experiences I had at wineries. This meant I no longer had to remember where I put those pieces of paper or what file I put notes about wines. If I had anything about that wine it was in my draft on Yelp for that business. I do the same for stores, restaurants, keeping notes about that business helps me when I next have to interact with them and it has become possibly unbeknownst by Yelp my personal CRM in the sky. Unless you are offering such a service you probably aren’t affected by this as an Enterprise.
Megatrend 4 (Internet of things.) It is trendy to talk of IP enabled devices and imagine everything will be so. I personally have my share of IP enabled technology and it is growing rapidly. My newest projector for the home, car, sound pressure meter device, body workout monitor add to the connected devices in my home. I think that this will grow a lot over the next 3 years but somehow I am not sure it is controversial or disruptive. It is helpful and I have no doubt more and more value will be created by having everything connected and tracked on the internet and available. Here is a wonderful example of how “the internet of things” is being realized by a construction company WSO2 is working with using the cloud to track tools on worksites. It turns out that finding tools at worksites is a problem. Not knowing where a tool is causes them to waste time, money buying multiple unneeded copies of the tool and sometimes just losing things. It sounds like my house! I am looking for the first internet enabled keys. However, if the keys are internet enabled then it is likely that the things the keys are for are internet enabled. If so, then why do you need a key anyway except as possibly a dual authentication mechanism.
If there is some business building things and ignores the “feature” to make it internet enabled I don’t see this as a show stopper. That’s why I am underplaying it. I don’t see Mercedes internet connectedness of their cars being able to disrupt Lexus’s sales. It’s a useful feature but it doesn’t drastically affect my driving experience enough to buy one or the other and consider it in my car purchase more than the color options on the car.
All I’m saying is that these are Megatrends but they have less impact on Enterprises and less “disruptive” effect than other things.
The big unmentioned megatrend that Gartner doesn’t mention is that the internet of things is also part of the ever growing trend to less and less privacy. Gartner doesn’t say if a trend is positive or negative. It is simply what is happening not whether it is good or bad. I would like to see in this list the emergence of Scala as the dominant programming language or something like that (just from a personal interest) but I find their list of the next 4 things which have to do with enterprise software technology depressing but accurate. Yes, mining everything that companies can learn from our loss of privacy will be bigger and bigger business and it will have benefits for business and consumers. It is disruptive in that it is changing how everyone markets, how everyone sells and connects with their marketplace and value chain. If you don’t leverage these trends I do see it being a huge negative to your business going forward.
Unlike items 1 through 5 which are largely irrelevant or positive for consumers and businesses items 6 and 7 are a mixed bag for consumers. Being able to watch us better and help us is a positive if it is used mainly for us, by us, completely at our discretion, however I personally wonder what kind of a world we are building. I have no idea how much data about me is being tracked or what it is being used for. I think we have to assume EVERYTHING! We can’t get off the grid or give up all the advantages of the services we love these days but it is scary to think how it could be abused.
Recently, visiting companies talking about the applications many of them are developing I found it astonishing that many companies are building huge overlapping databases of content about every person. One firm wants to collect everything to do with your voting history and preferences, proclivities integrated over every american. Another firm wants to collect everything about every americans travel, living habits and financial history in order to help make decisions about your eligibility for medical benefits. Another firm wants to collect everything you do in entertainment or another with everything you look at on the internet to help you buy the right products and price advertising. All of these companies are intending to make our life better by giving us better opportunities, better information to make decisions. In the process they hope to be able to beat the competition by being more useful to you or to businesses that can leverage that information to help you more. The problem is that so many companies are accumulating this vast amount of information about me and every american that it is scary to imagine that our entire lives are being documented by these firms over and over in database after database – possibly inaccurately. The frugal part of me thinks this is a colossal waste of storage capacity. Many of these firms are talking about databases of hundreds of millions of americans with vast records of our activities over and over. Potentially hundreds, thousands of copies of petabytes of information. This is a huge boon to everything “storage” related if it transpires. However, some of these applications are innocent and if the data is wrong it won’t make any significant impact but some are offering you or others services that may impact you in negative ways if the information is inaccurate or too detailed.
Besides the efficiency and cost angle the growing personal information databases has multiple bigger concerns. 1) Privacy. 2) Accuracy. I think everyone would share the worry that our world might become more and more like we are living in the hellhole of the communist 20th century where everyone was being watched. Imagine a world where whoever you talk to, wherever you work they can easily bring up everything you’ve ever said or done (or things you didn’t do) to deny you or limit your future success by tying you to your past mistakes or mistakenly perceived mistakes. One of the great things I always touted about America was that we always gave everyone another chance. We only cared about what you had done recently that was successful, therefore the fact that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs never graduated from college never hampered them. That’s a trivial example but the risk that Facebook or other data will follow us forever and haunt us is very real.
I propose a law that information about any individual in any database anyplace be kept for no more than 3 years. Also, if you are 18 or younger that information can be kept no longer than 1 year. Also, regarding my point on accuracy. Credit reporting agencies and health companies spend a vast amount of money giving people the right to control the privacy and accuracy of the data about them. It is unlikely that any of the firms collecting all this information about me are willing to let me have a “report” for free on what they know about me and having a “process” for me to fix it. Also, the sheer number and volume of companies keeping this information makes it impractical for me to hunt down everyone who might have inaccurate information on me. There needs to be a law that says if you keep such information then you must also provide a way for me to know you are keeping this information, to find out what it is you know and to fix it if it is wrong and to limit who can see or use this information. This will drastically increase the cost of maintaining this information and will force the number of companies financially able to keep such information down to a more reasonable number. It will force a centralization of that information and hopefully a way to control that information and its distribution and use better. If you agree with this please “like” this article or retweet part of it or whatever. I really would like to see a privacy law like this happen.
Item 8 I find bizarre. It is true that in-memory computing is growing in popularity. I have been a big advocate of Gigaspaces and the technology in general and real-time processing since the beginning of my career. The need to store things in permanent storage has put a big damper on the performance of applications. Making systems which operate in a distributed world and maintain consistency and order is hard. Databases were the only real answer and in-memory computing and the trend to larger problems needing to be solved in real-time is related directly to items 5, 6, 7 on Gartner’s list. It is absolutely true that the emergence of cheap large memory is helping this trend greatly but I just don’t know if I consider it a Megatrend, controversial or disruptive. It seems to me to be “in the weeds” of technological geekdom. For instance, why not put SDN in the list? Software defined networking is taking the world by storm. It is the only really practical way to do IaaS and if IaaS is a Megatrend then SDN is exploding along with it should be a Megatrend. For the problems that in-memory computing can help it is going to be used. For those it isn’t helpful for it won’t. It’s not really controversial or disruptive in that sense.
I suppose that if some firms can’t adopt in-memory computing they may not be able to offer services that are crucial to making marketing or other decisions in real time that may disrupt them. I am having trouble coming up with examples of this. Is someone going to disrupt WalMart or Target by offering better real-time information to consumers? I get the significance of in-memory computing I just don’t know if it is disruptive.
Now we get to Item 9, Ecosystems. Ecosystems are comprised of entities that depend on each other to perform some part of a business process. What Gartner is referring to here is the ability today to tie ecosystems of market participants in collaborative and value producing business processes that enable greater efficiency and new applications and ways of doing business that is controversial. Ecosystems have always existed but the existence of the cloud greatly changes how participants can work together and this will lead to disruption in the marketplace.
WSO2 has created a PaaS product which enables companies to create ecosystems. These ecosystems can share information, applications, APIs, mobile applications and offer value added services to each other and to the market in general by working together. We have several name brand companies working with us on this technology. Boeing talked at WSO2CON last week about the Ecosystem it is building with WSO2. We have others. This is huge and I predict will impact more than even Gartner anticipates.
Ecosystems can be based around a single company and its employees, partners and customers or it can be more of an industry wide ecosystem. Industries in some cases are forming these ecosystems to create value for all market participants and in some cases creating ecosystems to create disruptive value for themselves. Examples of ecosystems in the works is the car initiatives of some of the major care manufacturers. One car initiative I can talk about is trying to create a common “open” car “operating system” to enable you to buy or download cool new features to your car. Essentially creating standards for your car to become a “mobile device” with its own apps. There are multiple of these initiatives, some less open and proprietary to the car manufacturer. Car companies are segmenting themselves into groups supporting one ecosystem or another deciding who to latch on to. Deciding which ecosystem you tie yourself to may make or break you. The company that establishes these ecosystems becomes the de-facto leader and gains built-in power in their ecosystem.
These ecosystems are being built and established today. If you are not creating one then you may be forced to join one and be a follower rather than a leader. You may be acceding a leadership position in your market. Many companies may be missing the significance of this. They may not realize the opportunity to build an ecosystem that virtually locks them into a dominant position in their industry segment. It will be hard to disrupt the leaders of these ecosystems. They will have access to controls and information that allow them to create unfair market advantage. The reason this works is because the whole market is better if we have the ecosystem. For instance, the ability to have a car that you can upgrade and add new features after you buy it is a major advantage for the consumer and businesses will grow offering such products. So, the necessity of the ecosystems is established in my view. They will happen. The question is who will be the leaders? Who will build these ecosystems?
I touched on this trend in the mobile section. Enterprises have thousands of assets to manage. In the past there was hardware. Over the next 20 years more and more we will find most companies are not dealing with physical infrastructure assets anymore. The real value of the enterprise is in the services the company provides as business processes, APIs, applications, mobile applications. (The real world isn’t disappearing but the value added is all at this higher level, the service level.)
Managing this higher level of application infrastructure is the job of what is called PaaS software. PaaS is to applications as IaaS is to hardware infrastructure. The first step to becoming a next generation company is to create a service based company architecture consisting of applications, APIs, mobile applications. Companies have many business processes, databases, ways of operating that are “the company.” This value is built into the applications, business processes they operate. (Of course businesses also consist of people and culture but I am not addressing those here.)
Once you have the list of these service level capabilities the idea is to make a “refactor-able” capability to re-use these assets and improve them in an agile way. This is key to making an organization that can respond quickly and offer new products and services or improve existing products and services faster than the competition. Whether those capabilities are used internally exclusively or offered to the public is irrelevant. Keeping an Enterprise Store gives you the directory of these capabilities but a directory by itself is not very useful. What makes the Enterprise Store valuable is that it makes re-using enterprise assets easy, that it provides a social environment for people to transparently communicate and learn about the assets, their deficiencies and how to use them effectively as well as the plans to improve them, ideas about how to improve them.
An Enterprise Store gives your organization an automated way to leverage its capabilities and also a way to socialize the capabilities so they may be re-used more effectively or improved faster. If you improve a capability it may impact the users of that capability. Knowing who the users of that capability are and being able to help them migrate, understand the implications for them and adapt to address their concerns is key to success of an agile environment. Therefore having a list of capabilities and having a social environment is not enough. You must also be able to manage the process of use and lifecycle associated with usage. One key concept is creating a separate lifecycle for the capability and lifecycle for the underlying components of that capability. This way you can modify one without modifying the other. You can offer new services and applications to customers without having to rebuild your underlying capabilities and you can rebuild your underlying capabilities to improve them without having to affect the consumers of the top level capabilities.
Another huge benefit of an Enterprise Store is to be able to monitor the usage of the capabilities in it. Knowing how many participants are using it, how often, what they are using of the capability, and even specifically learning to anticipate or take advantage of patterns in that usage is key to leveraging those capabilities. This is true whether we are talking about the operation of the capabilities and making sure that operation is smooth as well as learning from the use of the capabilities to gain market advantage.
Gartner is right on this megatrend. Enterprise stores are going to be a huge way for Enteprises to gain efficiencies, migrate to a more agile way of doing business and managing enterprise assets in the modern age of the cloud, mobile, social, bigdata. WSO2 has a huge capability to help organizations build this modern architecture. We are working with large enterprises already in doing this.
Part of the reason I love working at WSO2 is being able to make these Megatrends happen. We already have products that address all of the Megatrends Gartner identified. As an open source company WSO2 is concerned also with the social implications and how to build these new megatrends in a socially constructive way.
I hope you found this blog useful.