With 2009 looming large, ugly and just around the corner, it’s time for the obligatory prognostications. Boy is this difficult… Hmmm. What will next year bring? Any wild guesses?
Rather than focus on the dark clouds, I am going to first look for the silver lining ahead.
Trend 1: Firms will try to remove redundant islands of business process and technology. Already system integrators and enterprise vendors are polishing their CFO pitches. In 2009, big vendors won’t be selling the CIO. They will be selling the person telling the CIO to cut budgets. 2009 may be the year that companies try to get a leg up on business process and enterprise system consolidation to further reduce the cost of IT and the cost of inefficient business processes. Maybe it will be dÃ©jÃ vu all over again as we may see business processes reengineering resurge.
Trend 2: Data warehouses, vocabularies and ontologies will advance steadily in the health sciences. Despite the emergence of the electronic health record technologies several years ago, most hospitals and other patient care providers still have a plethora of disconnected systems requiring extensive data integration. Research institutions are generating larger and many more data sets requiring ontologies, standard vocabularies, and industry reference models to promote data reuse and to facilitate larger teams of researchers solving tomorrow’s problems. Bioinformatics, which is the use of IT in DNA and biological research, is growing significantly as gene sequencing and other forms of biological research are both growing rapidly. Better management of all this data can result in significant cost savings and more important, much needed insight to deliver new products, new procedures, and better patient outcomes.
Trend 3: Open source will get a second chance to get a toe in the door. Due to recent massive consolidation in the enterprise software market and rapidly shrinking budgets for firms to buy enterprise software, more and more firms will be looking at open source solutions. Initially, these 2009 early adopters will look for focused or niche applications, including office software for desktops, for open source rather than “rip and replace” ERP swap-outs. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few more early adopters attempt large-scale open source ERP (e.g., Compiere, OpenBravo, Adempiere, Thingamy, Kuali) in 2009.
Trend 4: Cloud computing will secure more early adopters and virtualization will steadily grow. Cost cutting pressures will drive CIOs to examine all costs in the data center to find novel and cheaper ways of delivering computing services. 2009 could be a year of very significant growth in cloud computing as the technology has matured and strong price pressures will enable to overcome the initial hurdles of implementation. Virtualization, which has been growing quickly the past year or so, will continue to move along briskly. 2009 could be the year that data centers left the building and began their inexorable 15-year march to the cloud. And yes, I believe in 15 years most data center services will reside externally.
Trend 5: Low-cost disk arrays will grow rapidly. Companies that have been slow to virtualize their storage or otherwise find low-cost disk storage alternatives for infrequently accessed data will be doing so in a big way in 2009. Budget pressures will push adoption along. So will the need to store more data as a result of lawyers, litigation and e-discovery.
Now for the dark clouds. To spur debate and provide a counterweight to these trends, below are some anti-trends for 2009 for your consideration. Feel free to disagree.
Anti-trend 1: Social networking will unravel. At the risk of offending Web 2.0 enthusiasts, most firms, especially those hardest hit in this recession, consider social networking speculative and in some cases frivolous. To engage in speculation and innovation requires some staff time and some extra cash. My guess is that many these projects have been put on hold and related staff have been reassigned or let go. Only the few strong ROI social networking and Web 2.0 projects will continue.
Anti-trend 2: Mashups will get peeled back. Again, speculative ROIs or projects not directly assisting with significant savings are going to be difficult for IT leaders to advance. I see this trend sliding down the priority list in 2009. Over the next year, I don’t believe CFOs will be sold. The only good news for mashups is that costs may be small enough to avoid getting cut from the budget. However, we come back to the staff questions. Will firms have enough staff to assign to advancing mashups? I don’t think so.
Anti-trend 3: Large-scale VoIP and unified communication implementations will be muted. Those firms wishing to save money (which ones aren’t?) will try to get another year out of their old phone systems. Large scale VoIP projects are likely to be cut from the 2009 budget. On the other hand, firms that have put VoIP infrastructure in place are likely to continue implement VoIP in 2009, since the infrastructure investment cost was sunk in 2008 or earlier. VoIP and unified communications can be advanced incrementally in bite sized chunks.
Anti-trend 4: Analytics and BI will lose luster. Health sciences aside, firms contemplating a data warehousing and BI solution or those firms wishing to swap out BI technologies may decide to wait a year. Because the data manipulation and data quality hurdles require not just capital but calories (staff), many BI projects can be a bit pricey. Most businesses will make do with what they have for now and choose much lower cost alternatives for turning data into insight.
Anti-trend 5: Aged infrastructure will stay in service longer. More companies with way-past-their-prime architectures will attempt coax them along for another year. This will undoubtedly make things doubly difficult as many companies, who will be carrying smaller staffs, will have to find eke more time out of existing staff schedules to care for these aged beasts. Virtualization and low-end storage growth aside, many IT shops will pause and take a few breadths before funding major infrastructure changes.
I could be wrong on these trends and anti-trends. But then again, that’s what makes prognostications interesting. What are your thoughts regarding 2009?