2010 was a transition year for the tech sector. It was the year when cloud suddenly began to look realistic to the large companies that had scorned it. It was the year when social media suddenly became serious business. And it was the year when hardware and software were being united as a platform – something like in the old mainframe days – but different because of high-level interfaces and modularity. There were also important trends starting to emerge like the important of managing information across both the enterprise and among partners and suppliers. Competition for ownership of the enterprise software ecosystem headed up as did the leadership of the emerging cloud computing ecosystem.
So, what do I predict for this coming year? While at the outset it might look like 2011 will be a continuation of what has been happening this year, I think there will be some important changes that will impact the world of enterprise software for the rest of the decade.
First, I think it is going to be a very big year for acquisitions. Now I have said that before and I will say it again. The software market is consolidating around major players that need to fill out their software infrastructure in order to compete. It will come as no surprise if HP begins to purchase software companies if it intends to compete with IBM and Oracle on the software front. But IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft will not sit still either. All these companies will purchase the incremental technology companies they need to compete and expand their share of wallet with their customers.
This will be a transitional year for the up and coming players like Google, Amazon, Netflix, Salesforce.com, and others that haven’t hit the radar yet. These companies are plotting their own strategies to gain leadership. These companies will continue to push the boundaries in search of dominance. As they push up market as they grab market share, they will face the familiar problem of being able to support customers who will expect them to act like adults.
Customer support, in fact, will bubble to the top of the issues for emerging as well as established companies in the enterprise space – especially as cloud computing becomes a well-established distribution and delivery platform for computing. All these companies, whether well established or startups will have to balance the requirements to provide sophisticated customer support with the need to make profit. This will impact everything from license and maintenance revenue to how companies will charge for consulting and support services.
But what are customers be looking for in 2011? Customers are always looking to reduce their IT expenses – that is a given. However, the major change in 2011 will be the need to innovative based on customer facing initiatives. Of course, the idea of focusing on customer facing software itself isn’t new there are some subtle changes. The new initiatives are based on leveraging social networking from a secure perspective to both drive business traffic, anticipate customer needs and issues before they become issues. Companies will spend money innovating on customer relationships.
Cloud Computing is the other issue in 2011. While it was clearly a major differentiator in 2010, the cloud will take an important leap forward in 2011. While companies were testing the water this year, next year, companies will be looking at best practices in cloud computing. 2011 will be there year where customers are going to focus on three key issues: data integration across public, private, and data centers, manageability both in terms of workload optimization, security, and overall performance. The vendors that can demonstrate that they can provide the right level of service across cloud-based services will win significant business. These vendors will increasingly focus on expanding their partner ecosystem as a way to lock in customers to their cloud platform.
Most importantly, 2011 will be the year of analytics. The technology industry continues to provide data at an accelerated pace never seen before. But what can we do with this data? What does it mean in organizations’ ability to make better business decisions and to prepare for an unpredictable future? The traditional warehouse simply is too slow to be effective. 2011 will be the year where predictive analytics and information management overall will emerge as among the hottest and most important initiatives.
Now I know that we all like lists, so I will take what I’ve just said and put them into my top ten predictions:
1. Both today’s market leaders and upstarts are going to continue to acquire assets to become more competitive. Many emerging startups will be scooped up before they see the light of day. At the same time, there will be almost as many startups emerge as we saw in the dot-com era.
2. Hardware will continue to evolve in a new way. The market will move away from hardware as a commodity. The hardware platform in 2010 will be differentiated based on software and packaging. 2010 will be the year of smart hardware packaged with enterprise software, often as appliances.
3. Cloud computing models will put extreme pressure on everything from software license and maintenance pricing to customer support. Integration between different cloud computing models will be front and center. The cloud model is moving out of risk adverse pilots to serious deployments. Best practices will emerge as a major issue for customers that see the cloud as a way to boost innovation and the rate of change.
4. Managing highly distributed services in a compliant and predictable manner will take center stage. Service management and service level agreements across cloud and on-premises environments will become a prerequisite for buyers.
5. Security software will be redefined based on challenges of customer facing initiatives and the need to more aggressively open the corporate environment to support a constantly morphing relationship with customers, partners, and suppliers.
6. The fear of lock in will reach a fever pitch in 2011. SaaS vendors will increasingly add functionality to tighten their grip on customers. Traditional vendors will purchase more of the components to support the lifecycle needs of customers. How can everything be integrated from a business process and data integration standpoint and still allow for portability? Today, the answers are not there.
7. The definition of an application is changing. The traditional view that the packaged application is hermetically sealed is going away. More of the new packaged applications will be based on service orientation based on best practices. These applications will be parameter-driven so that they can be changed in real time. And yes, Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) didn’t die after all.
8. Social networking grows up and will be become business social networks. These initiatives will be driven by line of business executives as a way to engage with customers and employees, gain insights into trends, to fix problems before they become widespread. Companies will leverage social networking to enhance agility and new business models.
9. Managing end points will be one of the key technology drivers in 2011. Smart phones, sensors, and tablet computers are refining what computing means. It will drive the requirement for a new approach to role and process based security.
10. Data management and predictive analytics will explode based on both the need to understand traditional information and the need to manage data coming from new sales and communications channels.
The bottom line is that 2011 will be the year where the seeds that have been planted over the last few years are now ready to become the drivers of a new generation of innovation and business change. Put together everything from the flexibility of service orientation, business process management innovation, the wide-spread impact of social and collaborative networks, the new delivery and deployment models of the cloud. Now apply tools to harness these environments like service management, new security platforms, and analytics. From my view, innovative companies are grabbing the threads of technology and focusing on outcomes. 2011 is going to be an important transition year. The corporations that get this right and transform themselves so that they are ready to change on a dime can win – even if they are smaller than their competitors.
I never really thought about this question until about a month ago when I got a strange phone call from a a collection agency wanting to know when I pay my bill to a major network services provider. Naturally, my answer was I don’t do business with that company and I don’t owe anyone any money. My new friend persisted. Aren’t you Judith Hurwitz — yes, I replied, I am guilty as charged. Then she wanted to confirm that I was indeed the CEO of a company called Changepond Technologies. Now this was when I stopped pleading guilty. No, I answered, I haven’t even heard of a company called Changepond and I am therefore, not their CEO.
Now, how would this my friend assume that I would be president of a company I never heard of? She did what we all do; she did a google search and on one of the “social networking sites” called Spoke, it lists me as the CEO of Changepond. Imagine my surprise (especially since I never got a salary).
Judith Hurwitz This is me
President & CEO
Newton, Ma 4037
Judith Hurwitz, President Judith Hurwitz was a driving force in the distributed computing movement and was one of the first software industry analysts to recognize and write about important technology changes such as client/server computing, systems and applications management, and e-business practices. In 1992, she founded Hurwitz Group, a software research and consulting organization that quickly became an industry leader. Clients included most of the top technology firms, including IBM, Hewlett Packard, BMC, Compuware, BEA, Tivoli, Computer Associates, and Microsoft. The organization also assisted a long list of start up companies in their transition from technology idea to business product. Judith also held senior positions at Apollo Computer, John Hancock Life Insurance Company, Patricia Seybold’s Group, and International Data Corporation. Judith’s expertise is widely recognized, and she is frequently quoted in major publications. She is currently a columnist for CIO Online and has recently written articles for BioITWorld Magazine. She has authored hundreds of articles and reports, been a frequent keynote speaker at major industry events, and serves on the advisory boards of several corporations. Hurwitz holds a BA and Masters degree from Boston University.
Back in January of this year I signed up for a Twitter account. I have to admit I was skeptical. Why does anyone need to know what I am doing right now? I wrote a blog about how silly I thought it was. Then after playing around with Twitter for about five months I wrote another blog about how it had the potential for becoming a platform for innovation. So, clearly, I had changed my mind. I began to see that something here was more interesting than what I had assumed.
Well, now a few months later I would like to report that I have been getting deeper and deeper into my Twitter research and I have some new conclusions that I would like to share. Here are the five conclusions I have come to about why Twitter is important:
Number One. The water cooler effect. As a technology industry analyst I really enjoy connecting with other analysts. It is especially helpful when a bunch of us are at an industry analyst meeting and we can exchange impressions in real time about what speakers are really saying. When colleagues are at a meeting I am not attending, I get a vicarious real time impression about the meeting without being there in person! It is amazing what you learn from only 140 characters. I have found that the companies we analyst are twittering about eagerly follow what we say about them and their competitors.
Number Two. Connecting to the political world. During this election season, I have connected to many of the candidates, pundants, and journalists Twitter links. They often will provide links to articles and commentary that I never would have thought to look at – and I probably would never have known that they existed. I also took the opportunity to send direct messages to some candidates. I’m sure they never read what I said but it made me feel better. (Some candidates removed the ability to send a direct message after a while). I have noticed that a number of cable news reporters are now using Twitter to connect to people about specific issues they researching. It can definitely be a good reality check for these guys.
Number Three. Connecting to people in the computer industry. I have connected with executives and technologists that I haven’t been in touch with in a while. Sometimes, I have sent messages to set up a new meeting just based on seeing them make a statement about something happening in their company. It isn’t a substitute for other communications methods — traditional email, etc. but it is handy.
Number Four. The reach of the platform. Twitter, like other social networking platforms has created a range of related services — some that add better interfaces and there are lots. Here is a link to Todd Ogasawara’s blog that lists lots of them.
Number Five. Twitter will need a revenue based model at some point. Where’s the business model? This is something I haven’t figured out yet. How will Twitter make money? Are they planning what I call a Google Sneak Attack? Is there a plan to create an advertising model or new SaaS software model built on the base platform?
Clearly Twitter has momentum and some buzz right now. Will it last? I think some of that depends on how well the company does at working on scalability, partnerships, and figuring out a business model. Semantic search is something they desperately need. I could envision Twitter evolving to create specific applications for companies that want to set up real time feedback with customers and partners. I’ll keep working with Twitter — I enjoy the interaction (when I have time).
A few months ago I wrote a blog entry criticizing Twitter . I was not sure I got the relevance of this micro-blogging site. So, I decided that it made sense to spend time getting deeply involved in a Twitter community to test it and see if my opinion would change.
Here are my thoughts now. First, I am finding myself intrigued by Twitter. It is a quirky environment. I see some comments like “I am drinking my first cup of coffee of the day” or “My airplane is delayed.” I think that I know too much about some people’s daily habits and not enough about others. I also get breaking news on twitter and find some fascinating links from political pundits. I am finding that I get some unique insights into people I know and people I don’t. Some entries are simply entertaining and make me laugh. My colleague, Robin Bloor, for example, has been posting haikus that are wonderful. I look forward to them. I exchange comments on topics with other analysts that I have gotten to know over the years. I am also reconnecting with people I haven’t talked to in years.
So, I think I have changed my mind to a certain extent. Twitter does fill a role in a world where our time is sliced thinner and thinner and where we don’t always have the time to pick up the phone and call. It provides a way to create micro-communities that have intriguing possibilities.
I think this is just the beginning of what we will see in the next five years. It reminds me somewhat of the early commercial Internet days. It was an intriguing platform that has potential but needed to evolve. How will Twitter and other similar sites evolve? I think that we will see the refinement of specialized closed groups focused on either topics or issues. I could see, for example, a company setting up a Twitter-like capability to allow a team of scientists or researchers to ping each other with quick ideas. This is different than traditional communications methods used by these groups. In formal conversations or papers these participants feel compelled to write long and complicated explanations of ideas and concepts. If you are limited to a hundred or so characters you are forced to get the core of your idea out very, very quickly.
Like email in an older generation, Twittering could have the effect of quickening the pace of communication — but in a radically different way. Sometimes the most important innovation comes from a single phrase or idea that expands into a universe.
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