2013 was an amazing year for enterprise IT—the pace of innovation is higher than it has ever been and there is no sign of any slow down. In my view, 2014 is going to be a pivotal year in the transformation of enterprise IT. Here are just a few predictions of what I see happening in enterprise software in 2014.
It’s a flawed approach to believe that a "one size cloud fits all” approach is appropriate, particularly in the enterprise and specifically for cloud storage. According to a survey that will be published in early 2014 by ESG, a leading analyst firm, 97% of IT professionals who have already deployed an online file sharing solution in the cloud are “extremely” or “somewhat interested” in on premise storage options. In 2014 hybrid cloud will emerge as the de facto choice for organizations that don’t want to and can’t afford to treat all applications and information equally.
Mobile consumer apps have trained people to not just want, but demand a great user experience. One victim of this movement will be the death of feature-bloated apps. Instead, there will be a relentless focus from enterprise software vendors on simplicity of design and function. Those companies who fail to embrace this imperative will be left behind.
We’ve heard a lot about the impact of predictive analytics on the enterprise and how they inform data-driven strategies. Now, the next leap in predictive analytics will be user driven. For example, content creation and collaboration will move from simple access and editing to automating of mundane tasks. Imagine you’ve just completed a meeting in which you created an elaborate whiteboard diagram that you want to share with all the meeting attendees. Predictive insights will prompt you to automatically email the photo of the diagram to all the people listed in calendar invite, eliminating time from a simple but low-value process.
In a mobile world, where users work on multiple devices, any time and anywhere, the notion of desktop backup and recovery is not enough. True protection of business-critical files requires that files are backed up the moment they are modified no matter what device is used to perform an update. And if a device is lost, stolen, or malfunctions, a user should be able to pick up any other device and keep working without missing a beat -- and without needing to recover from a backup first.
Congress will be forced to find a solution to the H-1B visa issue that continues to slowly eat away at the long term competitiveness of U.S. tech companies. We need to treat Silicon Valley and other technology centers as growth engines and give them the badly needed talent they require to fuel their innovation.
We need to dramatically increase and diversify the technical talent pool within our country and initiatives such as Code.org, an organization dedicated to expanding participation in computer science education, and Code For America are examples of programs headed in the right direction. The emergence of Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg as high-profile technology leaders will also help drive more girls into technical and business careers, creating a far larger and more diverse technology workforce.
It is not 1999. The tech industry has regained its footing and many ideas and innovations being invested in today are delivering long-term value. That said, there is considerable irrationality in the market as well, with some company’s valuations not being in line with core business fundamentals. For enterprise customers, financial stability and laser-focus on enterprise needs matters in the long term. “Land grabs” can generate a lot of early market hype, but when it comes to enterprise-scale deployments the landscape can change very fast.
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