Predictions of where IT is headed, even in the fairly short term, are always tricky. Some trends, like the form factors of Internet devices continuing to get smaller and smaller, are fairly easy to spot. Others, like the rapid development of social media as a pervasive communication and collaboration tool, took the world by surprise.
However, Gartner has a pretty good grip on all the latest developments in IT, so CIOs should certainly pay attention to the predictions in the research group’s new “2012 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.” They may not all come true, but they at least give a general indication of the IT landscape CIOs will be living in a few years from now. Let’s take a quick stroll through some of the more interesting predictions.
Big Data, Small Price – The Big Data phenomenon has gotten quite a bit of attention lately. While Big Data offers the opportunity to radically improve understanding of your customers and your company’s brand image, this opportunity usually comes with a hefty price tag. Gartner expects continuing developments in technologies such as quantum and cloud computing will drastically reduce the cost of collecting, sifting, storing and analyzing Big Data, and also scale Big Data so that even small enterprises can effectively use it.
Once Big Data becomes a standard, CIOs will have to focus on finding creative means of analyzing it, such as wide-ranging comparative analysis or the application of advanced algorithms to turn Big Data into a predictor of the future as well as an indicator of the present. In the meantime, CIOs should look into cost-effective Big Data outsourcing options to help get a leg up while Big Data is still somewhat exotic and mysterious.
The Personal Touch – Gartner also predicts that a vast collection of leading-edge technologies including human augmentation, volumetric and holographic displays, automatic content recognition, natural-language question answering, speech-to-speech translation, gamification, augmented reality, cloud computing, NFC, gesture control, virtual worlds, biometric authentication methods, speech recognition and yes, Big Data will create a world where humans interact with technology much more naturally.
This development will simultaneously make the CIO’s job easier and harder. IT departments will run more smoothly and cost-effectively as intuitive systems and employees who have literally grown up using technology on a constant basis drastically reduce the time and expense of training and error rates.
However, senior management may also conclude that there is less need for a formal IT department in this type of pervasive technology environment, cutting budgets and reducing the power and standing of the CIO role. CIOs need to focus on high-level strategic IT functions that require more than the knowledge of how to operate or maintain technology to ensure the value of the IT department is recognized. Outsourcing more routine IT functions is one way to help keep the department focused on higher-value activities that require specialized knowledge.
Bring Your Own Everything – Last week, Felipe Pacheco wrote an excellent column outlining the “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) trend, and there is no need to rehash what he already said. However, Gartner does predict employees will continue increasing the amount of corporate work they perform on personal devices. CIOs need to develop comprehensive strategies now and also start considering the impact of the mobile form factor on things like user interfaces, intranet portals and data storage.