In a separate blog post ("What A Romney Presidency Would Mean For the US Tech Market Outlook"), I analyze what I think would be the likely impact on the US tech market if Mitt Romney is elected President in November. In this post, I provide a similar analysis of the US tech market should Barack Obama be re-elected. As with my analysis of a Romney election, I start with the premise that elections only slightly move the needle on the general course and direction of tech market growth, at most shifting growth rates up or down one- to two-percentage points.
In that blog post, I pointed out that there are only minor differences between the Republican and Democratic platforms in terms of policies directly impacting the tech industry, and almost no differences in policy areas not addressed in the platforms, such as tech investment tax incentives. That means that the biggest impact of an Obama election on the tech sector will come from what that would mean in terms of tech demand – that is, how the economy would grow under an Obama Administration, and how government spending on tech might change.
Like the Republican platform, the Democratic platform is vague or ambiguous on many critical details of economic policy, especially in explaining how it would address federal budget deficits and entitlements spending. As the incumbent, Obama does have a track record, which we can use to make some predictions about his administration’s likely policies if he is re-elected. Here are the key tenets:
· Support for additional fiscal and monetary stimulus to boost economic growth.
With the US presidential election race entering the two-month sprint to election day, I think it is useful to speculate on what a Romney administration would mean for the US tech market (in another blog post, I analyze how a second Obama Administration would affect the tech market -- see "What An Obama Reelection Would Mean For the US Tech Market Outlook.")
To start, we should remember that US elections don’t have much of an effect on tech spending and purchases. Businesses and governments make tech buying decisions based on their own needs and funding resources, which elections affect only around the margins. I don’t expect this election to diverge from this historic pattern. Still, marginal tech decisions can mean the difference between a tech market that grows by 3% to 4% or one that grows at rates of 5% to 6%.
Quick review: iPhone launches in 2007. CIOs don't care. I perk up. 2008. Apple launches App Store and Exchange ActiveSync support. CIOs start to wake up. Kraft's Dave Dietrich uses iPhone to revitalize Kraft's technology culture. As a software developer, my spidey senses start tingling. 2009-10. Apple adds hardware encryption, hooks to device management suppliers like MobileIron and Good Technology and Boxtone, a hundred million customers, and oh yeah, CEOs start bringing Christmas iPads to work and asking for email support. 2011. Apple App Store really picks up steam. (Android does, too.) iPad at work reaches 67% of the installed base according to our global information worker survey of 10,000 of your employees. iPhone gets slimmer, and Apple sells more of them than ever.
Now it's 2012. Apple sells over half a billion iOS devices since 2007. Apple is the major go-to smartphone for CIOs coming off a BlackBerry addiction. Apple is the dominant supplier of business tablets. Microsoft introduces v8 of its Windows Phone OS (not so many of them sold yet) and announces a tablet. And as colleague Thomas Husson points out, Google lights up 1.3 million Android devices a day. And Apple launches iPhone 5 running iOS 6.
So what does this announcement mean for CIOs? I'd say, CIOs need to tune into popular culture and divine what's happening in the consumer market. Because whither goeth the consumer market goeth the business market. You heard it here. Here's what iPhone5 means for the enterprise:
To the surprise of no one, Apple today announced its new iPhone 5. Given that the iPhone 5 is unlikely to solve the European debt crisis or bring peace to the Middle East, it won’t be surprising if we hear a resounding "meh" from Apple's critics, with them dinging the company for a paucity of innovation. Indeed, competitors like HTC and Nokia have already offered some of the features that Apple highlighted today, such as those for imaging. But Apple still outpaces the competition when it comes to the entire package — the new iPhone unites significant improvements in industrial design, imaging, audio, and connectivity, along with the wealth of new capabilities that iOS6 enables. Apple will sell a boatload of iPhones — especially now that both Verizon Wireless and Sprint will have an iPhone (the 8 GB iPhone 4) for consumers' favorite price: free.
But make no mistake, this is not about the iPhone 5 versus the Samsung Galaxy S III or the iPad versus the Kindle Fire HD; this is about customers' attachment to the larger ecosystems that those devices inhabit. Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft all aim to translate customers' investments — of money, information, personalization, and social connections — into a gravitational field of loyalty so powerful that few customers will ever attain escape velocity. This market is still taking shape, but the iPhone 5 will markedly increase Apple's pull, already the strongest out there.
With two thirds of 2012 completed, it has become clear that the global tech market is not going to grow as fast this year as we had expected in January. Back then, we predicted that business and government purchases of information technology would grow by 5.4% in 2012 when measured in US dollars. In our latest forecast (see September 10, 2012, Global Tech Market Outlook 2012 To 2013: Economic Weakness Will Slow, But Not, Stop Growth), we now expect growth of 1.3%. Much of this slowdown is due to greater-than-expected strength in the US dollar against other major currencies. Measured in local currencies to eliminate currency fluctuations, we project 2012 growth will be better at 3.6%. Still, this too is lower than our January prediction of 5.3%, which is the result of slower economic growth in the US, Europe, China, and India.
I want to point out that, apart from the currency effects, the slowdown is concentrated in one geography – Europe – and one tech product category – communications equipment. In local currency terms, the tech markets of the US and Asia Pacific will grow by 4% to 5%, while emerging markets in Latin America and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa will expand by over 8%. The weak spot will be Western and Central Europe, where the tech market will shrink by 2.5%. On a similar basis, software, IT consulting and systems integration services, and IT outsourcing will grow by 4% to5% or more, and computer equipment by almost 3%. But communications equipment purchases will decline by almost 1%.
In a recent media interview I was asked about whether the requirements for data visualization had changed. The questions were focused around whether users are still satisfied with dashboards, graphs and charts or do they have new needs, demands and expectations.
Arguably, Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics were probably the first real "commercial" examples of data visualization (though many people before the Egyptians also used the same approach — but more often as a general communications tool). Since then, visualization of data has certainly always been both a popular and important topic. For example, Florence Nightingale changed the course of healthcare with a single compelling polar area chart on the causes of death during the Crimean War.
In looking at this question of how and why data visualization might be changing, I identified at least 5 major triggers. Namely:
Increasing volumes of data. It's no surprise that we now have to process much larger volumes of data. But this also impacts the ways we need to represent it. The volume of data stimulates new forms of visualization tools. While not all of these tools are new (strictly speaking), they have at least begun to find a much broader audience as we find the need to communicate much more information much more rapidly. Time walling and infographics are just two approaches that are not necessarily all that new but they have attracted much greater usage as a direct result of the increasing volume of data.
I'm going to tell you a story of opportunity. I will warn you in advance that it paints the art of the possible, but ultimately it's a cautionary tale.
I have a 17-year-old son. He's a high school senior and attends a private high school in our city. In Forrester terminology, you could call him "empowered." So much so that over his first three years he rarely wore the required school uniform. Now, the school uniform is far from draconian. It's a polo, color of your choice, with a school logo. I actually think they look good, but he says they itch. To get around it he simply wore the polo of his choice under a sweater. It would seem all polo collars look the same. This worked well until a new principal came in last year and figured out what was going on. A new dress code was instituted that required that students also wear school approved outer wear so that a school logo was always visible.
"Innovate or die" is not just a catchy slogan. It’s the way that businesses need to operate in this market-driven world. And, as technology underpins more and more products, services, processes, and go-to-market strategies, the CIO must be involved in driving business-impacting innovations. This involvement ranges from supporting internal R&D to unearthing and vetting new technologies out in the market that can be internalized to disrupt the status quo and propel the organization forward.
Most organizations are cognizant of this reality. However, few have mastered making innovation into a sustainable practice with defined processes that take into account the differences between incremental change and true innovation. What is needed is less hyperbole and more practical information and examples of how to the CIO can and should support an innovation process to drive business value.
To deliver, you’ll need to understand and internalize the trends, understand the business capabilities required to deliver on sustainable innovation, and assess how prepared you actually are to deliver. Based on this insight, you then need to plot out a strategy and carefully plan your people, process, and technology. From there you have implement — building out your innovation network, and developing a governance model to enforce the right behaviors. And to continually improve, you need to focus on metrics, peer comparison, and change management.
Last year Netflix attempted to shift its business strategy to focus mainly on streaming video. Although I wasn’t present in the boardroom discussions, it’s a reasonable bet that Reed Hastings and his team had decided the future was online streaming and that physical discs were a dinosaur. Since the war for content would be fought over streaming, Netflix would focus on adding value to its streaming customers and spin off the disc customers. On the surface this seemed to many a reasonable strategy, especially since Netflix reported that its digital streaming customers and the disc-in-the-mail customers were mostly not one and the same. So Netflix execs crunched the numbers and decided this was the right move for them. Perhaps they had hoped to spin off the disc side of the business to raise some capital. Whatever their thinking, their strategy choices left some gaping unanswered questions for observers like me: