Healthcare.gov, Enterprise Startup Boom Among Top 2013 IT Stories
As we count down the last few days of 2013, here are the remainder of my picks for the top 10 events, trends, technologies that changed the enterprise in 2013.
The Rehabilitation of Healthcare.gov
The collapse and slow rehabilitation program for the Healthcare.gov Website provided a reminder for every techie who struggled for years with Enterprise Resource Planning systems that never worked, with Websites that crashed and internal databases that simply refused to talk with one another.
In an era when Facebook knows all about you, Amazon can guess your next purchase preference and Netflix makes movie recommendations based on your past viewings, the designers of Healthcare.gov grossly underestimated the difficulty of marrying multiple databases, incorporating system rules that were only recently approved and doing it all on an open platform that was supposed to be easy for anyone to access.
Now the job of changing tires on the moving bus has been handed to former Microsoft exec Kurt DelBene. The fall and (maybe) rise of Healthcare.gov will provide grist for technology case studies for decades.
Watching for Another Dot-Com Bubble
Are we in another irrationally exuberant bubble era reminiscent of Kozmo delivery and Pets.com? There are some eerie similarities. After all, Amazon, which is now pursuing same-day delivery and talking up drone delivery, was a Kozmo investor.
While the enterprise market was mostly left out of the first Internet bubble (the enterprise folks were too busy worrying about the impending Y2K crash), the enterprise has recently become the focus of a new generation of startups.
However, this time around, it is different. Startups can build their software on infrastructure platforms from the likes of Amazon Web Services and avoid the big up-front capital costs. Are there too many startups chasing too few corporate buyers? Probably, but enterprise-oriented startups have become the technology labs for tech vendors eagerly willing to pay for what they can't produce within their own companies.
The CIO's Umbrella
The role of the CIO has shifted from gatekeeper to umbrella holder. CIOs found out that standing in the doorway to stop rogue applications from entering the company only meant that Salesforce.com, Workday, Amazon Web Services, Dropbox and all the others came in the back door.
The CIOs' role is now to allow and even encourage those new applications and platforms while also assuring privacy, security and compliance are ingrained within the corporation. CIOs who embrace the new role will find their presence once again welcomed at the corporate boardroom. Those CIOs still playing the role of Dr. No will be herded to the exit door.
The Shared Enterprise
The rise of car-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber were the most visible "shared economy" disrupters in 2013. However, shared work spaces, shared houses (Airbnb) and shared bicycle infrastructures (Citi Bike in New York City) are all examples of the shared economy competing against traditional fixed systems.
Large enterprises have more often been the targets of shared systems—think taxis, limos, hotels and office parks—instead of the beneficiaries. Traditional tech vendors used to selling boxes to data center operations are in danger of being the most battered by the shared economy as cloud computing and software-as-a-service operations restructure enterprise technology purchasing.
Enterprises have the customer databases, the physical store locations and an experienced workforce. What those companies don't have right now is a strategy to take part in the shared economy. Developing a shared strategy will be a necessity in 2014.
The API Enterprise
The purpose of a company's technology infrastructure is to enable new applications. The old application model of specification, prototype and move to production has been replaced by rapid application development, in large part enabled by stitching together new applications through their API interface.
Developers offer up their API interface to complete transactions, enable telecom services or (in Amazon Web Services' case) deliver an entire computing infrastructure. Companies are constrained more by their lack of imagination and shortage of developers who understand API-based applications rather than internal technology budgets chewed up by lengthy application development.
Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008, authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.