Starving People Will Find Food

In our Forrsights Business Decision-Makers Survey, Q4 2011, 79% of business executive respondents said that technology will be a key source of innovation for their company, while 71% said that it will be a competitive differentiator. So how well positioned is IT to help firms meet these expectations? Forty-six percent thought that their current IT organization was not well positioned to meet these needs, and 41% thought IT was overly bureaucratic.

I could go on with more data, but the message is clear — business is starving for technology to help it be more innovative, create market differentiation, and lower costs. In the midst of this, IT is mired in a technology mess created by years of underinvestment and business growth by acquisition. What’s going to happen?

The thing I want you to remember is something a client said to me not too long ago that stuck with me, “Starving people will find food.” So the question is: do we feed our starving business or tell them to stay on a diet? And if the latter, what will be the impact if they go scavenging the countryside? We think the answer involves flexibly and rapidly introducing new technology to take advantage of strategic opportunities, while still protecting data, mission-critical applications, and our most precious TCO reduction goals.

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Agility And What's Keeping You From It

In our Forrsights Business Decision-Makers Survey, Q4 2011, we asked business technology leaders to rate IT’s ability to establish an architecture that can accommodate changes to business strategy. While 45% of IT rated its ability positively, only 30% of business respondents did. Clearly, both think there is room for improvement, but business is more concerned about it.

So are we agile? Only 21% of enterprise architects in our September 2011 Global State Of Enterprise Architecture Online Survey reported being even modestly agile, so I think we all know the answer.

What do we do about it? Continue to focus on technology standardization and cost reduction? Give up on that and focus on tactical business needs? Gridlock in the middle because we can’t make the business case to invest in agility? This is the struggle EA organizations face today.

To act with agility, firms must create a foundation for it, and three barriers can get in the way:

  • Brittle processes and legacy systems. We all know it this one; the current state mess of processes that cannot adapt to change and legacy systems where everything is connected to everything else, so even the smallest changes have broad impacts. Techniques to overcome this barrier include partitioning the problem into digestible pieces to show incremental progress and short-term payoff.
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Are Your Employees Doing This?

I just saw something that makes a point I covered in a technology trends briefing for a client yesterday. After getting my Sun-dried Ethiopia Harrar (a $3.45 “clover-brewed,” ridiculously priced guilty pleasure – nice marketing job, Starbucks!), I noticed a young woman sitting behind me with her 5x7 notebook out, busily scribbling while bent over a large smartphone. Hmmm, I thought, let’s see what she’s doing. So I made pest of myself by asking a few questions. Here is some of the Q&A (her replies are abbreviated; she was actually quite helpful and not as curt):

  • Q: Are you a student or is what you are doing for work? A: No, I’m actually working.
  • Q: So do you have a PC? A: I do, but it’s a bulky 17” laptop that I got when I was a student, and I can do what I need on this.
  • Q: Is that company-issued phone, or is it yours? A: It’s mine.
  • Q: Does your company help by paying for any of the service? A: No, I pay it all myself.
  • Q: Are you doing an official assignment? A: No, nobody told me to do this. I am ...
  • Q: Do you even have your PC with you? A: No, I didn’t bring it.
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2012 Predictions – Technology Will Shape Who We Are As People And Businesses

In the first phase of the information age, technology helped us achieve new levels of productivity. In the next phase, technology will shape who we are. Why? Because technology is everywhere – and savvy businesses are paying attention. I did a check on a recent trip and noticed that, on average, 80% of the people around me were nose down in their technology. That’s amazing if you stop and think about it….(pause for thinking)…When you spend that much time using something, it ceases to be a helper and starts to shape who you are.

I think 2012 will be a watershed year for the global business environment as technology moves from being “out there” to “part of us.” In 2020, we will look back on 2012 not as the year the world ended but as the year it changed for good. Check out the TED video We Are All Cyborgs Now. Here are four predictions about business in 2012 that all start with the fusion of business and technology and the impact that it will have on shaping business. I hope will add some new thought food to your mental garden:

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A Copernican Shift (And A Tip Of My Hat To Randy Heffner)

As my first calendar year as an analyst draws to a close, I wanted to thank everybody who has read and commented on my blog and say that I look forward to even more next year. In closing out the year, I turn for a moment away from emerging technology to share an email I wrote to one of our clients in response to some questions he had about the changing nature of EA. In describing the future, I'm going to blatantly pirate a term that Randy Heffner has been using for a while because as I sought to answer this client's questions, I realized how absolutely spot on it is. here is the relevant text of that email:

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Happy to answer your questions as outlined below in the inquiry request. We have published a report along similar lines, BT 2020: IT's Future In The Empowered Era, that I recommend for additional ideas. Regarding timing, 2015 will be a stepping stone towards 2020, so I’ll focus answers on 2020, and you can extrapolate to 2015 in terms of the migration that needs to occur.

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Rethink Your IT Strategy If You’re Serious About Cloud

Cloud – people can’t agree on exactly what it is, but everyone can agree that they want some piece of it. I have not talked to a single client who isn’t doing something proactively to pursue cloud in some form or fashion. This cloud-obsession was really evident in our 2011 technology tweet jam as well, which is why this year’s business technology and technology trends reports cover cloud extensively. Our research further supports this – for example, 29% of infrastructure and operations executives surveyed stated that building a private cloud was a critical priority for 2011, while 28% plan to use public offerings, and these numbers are rising every year.

So what should EAs think about cloud? My suggestion is that you think about how your current IT strategy supports taking advantage of what cloud is offering (and what it’s not). Here are our cloud-related technology trends along with some food for thought:

  • The next phase of IT industrialization begins. This trend points out how unprepared our current IT delivery model is for the coming pace of technology change, which is why cloud is appealing. It offers potentially faster ways to acquire technology services. Ask yourself – is my firm’s current IT model and strategy good enough to meet technology demands of the future?
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Technology Is Everywhere — Are You Paying Attention?

We are currently in a technology growth cycle, which is likely to continue for another five to seven years.* The opportunities presented by the likes of cloud, mobile, social, and big data are abundant. I'm wondering if EAs are overly focused on consolidation, simplification, and cost control, which could lead to missing the boat. Alternatively, companies may just leave EA behind as they sail to newer, profitable waters.

In Forrester's September 2011 Global State Of Enterprise Architecture Online Survey, we asked architects to prioritize the following challenges, and here is what we found:

 EA Survey Results

While 37% of firms told us that improving how their firms identify and integrate new/disruptive technology was high priority, it was a substantially smaller percentage than the other nine challenges we asked about. Compare this to: 1) a similar CIO survey that ranked business technology innovation as the top priority, and 2) another EA survey question indicating that "using technology to increase business competitiveness" was the number three IT driver for EA programs.

My concern is that other things may be distracting EA attention away from the opportunities that abound in this growth cycle. Consider:

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The Top Technology Trends For The Next Three Years (Part 2)

As promised in my blog last week, here is part 2. In part 1, I introduced the two trends reports we did this year and showed the list of trends for business technology. These are trends and technologies to consider first with your "business hat" on. This blog post lists the other 10 trends to view first from a technology lens because they are of lower interest or impact to the business.

We have created four new categories to make IT stakeholder identification easier: 1) application platforms will be of high interest to your app dev and management teams; 2) integration will be of interest to app dev, data integration specialists, and even process folks (considering that processes can and should be integrated with apps and data); 3) infrastructure and operations; and 4) mobile computing, which spans infrastructure, app dev, and possibly line-of-business relationship managers who are very keen on mobility. And don't forget your security and compliance stakeholders, who will generally care about all of these!

Before listing the trends and technologies, I also want to introduce a new twist to our research this year - we have identified four major themes that run through many of our business technology and technology trends. These themes are so broad and far reaching that we thought it worth calling them out separately; we are advising our clients to understand these themes as the context for responding to individual trends:

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The Top Technology Trends For The Next Three Years

We just released our 2011 update to last year’s EA top trends report, The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch: 2011 To 2013. In 2011, we have expanded our coverage by releasing two documents of 10 trends each:

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Big Data Will Help Shape Your Market’s Next Big Winners

It seems that every week another vendor slaps “big data” into its marketing material – and it’s going to get worse. Should you look beyond the vendor hype and pay attention? Absolutely yes! Why? Because big data has the potential to shape your market’s next winners and losers.

At Forrester, we think clients must develop an intuitive understanding of big data by learning: 1) what is new about it; 2) what it is; and 3) how it will influence their market.

What is new about big data? We estimate that firms effectively utilize less than 5% of available data. Why so little? The rest is simply too expensive to deal with. Big data is new because it lets firms affordably dip into that other 95%. If two companies use data with the same effectiveness but one can handle 15% of available data and one is stuck at 5%, who do you think will win? The deal, however, is that big data is not like your traditional BI tools; it will require new processes and may totally redefine your approach to data governance.

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