Silicon Valley IT research community Wikibon recently queried its members and came up with a list of questions about the future of IT that it believed required answers in the form of predictions. However, there was a clear overall theme: We all need to put more data to work.
Wikibon is a professional community solving technology and business problems through an open-source sharing model of free advisory knowledge. Peter Burris, chief research officer and GM at Wikibon, SiliconANGLE Inc.'s research arm, curated this most recent research project, completed a few weeks ago.
The community organization's research consistently shows that the current period of digital transformation needs to be understood not in terms of management problems, but simple prescriptions.
If, to paraphrase Peter Drucker--an internationally known management consultant, educator, and author--business exists to create and sustain customers, then digital business is the application of data to differentially create and sustain customers.
10 Questions Emerge from Research
From that perspective, 10 questions emerged from the study that will guide tech management behavior over the next 10 years. They are:
--What's driving technology architecture?
--Do microprocessor options matter?
--Code in the cloud?
--Big data complexity?
--Will there be a new IT mandate?
--What happens when IoT meets augmented reality?
--Is that all there is to digital engagement?
--Will we all work for AI?
Magnifying the questions to ask in 2017 and Burris's predictions:
So What's Driving Technology Architecture?
Data movement isn't free. Physics insists that it costs time and fidelity, and WAN providers insist on getting paid. As digital technology moves closer to mechanical or knowledge work, it will drag system requirements with it, and physics and WAN providers will have their say.
Wikibon's 2017 Prediction: IoT edge use cases begin shaping decisions in system and application architecture.
Do Microprocessor Options Matter?
As more computing moves closer to the device or person performing the work--generating new types of systems requirements--the factors that made Intel Corp.'s x86 architecture dominant start to lose potency.
Wikibon's 2017 Prediction: Evolution in workloads creates an opening for new microprocessor technologies, which grab 2-3 points of x86 server market share.
What's Going to Happen to HDDs?
Increasingly real-time-like applications operating on broadly distributed microprocessors generates enormous volumes of data, but also consumes huge data. Disk-based storage systems, the "John Henry" of computing for the past 40 years, no longer can keep up--at least not in performance-focused settings. HDD units will continue to grow, but in capacity-oriented settings, replacing tape. The new top dog in storage is flash.
Wikibon's 2017 Prediction: Anything in a data center that physically moves gets less useful and loses share of wallet.
Code In The Cloud
Developers have a whole new toolkit with which to play, which is comprised of container-based automation and deployment technology. The promise of these new tools is significant: better performing applications, simpler deployment, faster change cycle times, lower exit barriers, greater reuse, among many others.
But we've heard this before: distributed computing architectures, service-oriented architectures and other technologies were supposed to save business from monolithic applications, but it didn't turn out that way. Conway's Law, which states that a system's final design reflects the communication structure of the organization that built it, is alive and well.
Wikibon's 2017 Prediction: The new cloud development stack, centering on containers and APIs, matures rapidly, but institutional habits in development constrain change.
It seemed like a good idea when it officially launched in 2006, but most doubted its effectiveness and impact. No longer. Today, Amazon Web Services has emerged as a force in the technology industry by offering simple, cost-effective (at most scales) and highly elastic cloud-based computing.
An overwhelming number of tech start-ups are built on AWS. What about new digital business infrastructures of less tech-oriented companies? AWS needs to maintain its simplicity roots if it's going to attract less-sophisticated enterprises to its cloud options.
Wikibon's 2017 Prediction: Amazon has another banner year, but customers start demanding a "simplicity reset."
Big Data Complexity
Wikibon research shows conclusively that the promise of big data isn't being achieved in most businesses, and complexity is the problem. Unless tooling and integration are made simpler, enterprises won't be able to amass the experience required to establish crucial big data business capabilities.
If business can't establish the capabilities required to better fashion use cases and sustainably operate analytic pipelines, the potential advantages of machine learning, AI, cognitive and other big data-related patterns will remain well out of reach.
Wikibon's 2017 Prediction: Bigger, more established companies sense an opening.