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10 terms shaping 2014

on ‎12-31-2013 07:56 AM


This is the time of the year when most of us make their predictions for 2014. I’ve done that a number of years with varying success. So, this year I rather came up with 10 terms that will be discussed throughout 2014. I created my list, realizing there are others, but wanting to focus on hot topics that will shape many discussions this year. Let me know which ones you think are missing.



Privacy will remain at the center of many discussions in 2014. The revelations of 2013 have seriously rocked the trust countries had in one another, resulting in new legislation making cross-country data access more difficult. And obviously, non-us service providers try to take advantage of the situation to present themselves as the only ones that ensure information is not leaked. Beyond the hype and the disinformation, clear guidelines will have to be established to avoid stopping the globalization of the information economy. Supra national organizations have to establish sound guidelines on how to treat personal information. I’m sure this is at the center of the current US-EU free trade discussions. It takes time for such guidelines and legislation to emerge, but I’m sure 2014 will be fertile on the subject.



Despite what several public cloud providers keep claiming, the future of IT for large enterprises is not public cloud, it’s rather the combination of several cloud services, from private to public. Indeed, public cloud is lacking in transparency and as such not suitable for running a number of critical services for the enterprise. And the traditional environment is not disappearing any time soon. So, the future enterprise IT environment will contain several technologies provided by a number of different service providers. As cloud matures, an increasing amount of CIOs understand this and are starting to build such environments. This will continue in 2014, and in my mind the adoption of hybrid environments will acceleration



Many IT departments that embraced cloud technologies have done so to facilitate the provisioning of servers. As such it’s the use of cloud to continue doing what IT has done for quite a while. Slowly but surely things are changing and an increasing amount of CIOs start understanding the true value of services thinking. SOA (Service Oriented Architectures) is back in the limelight and developing services addressing the needs of the business becomes center stage. To facilitate that understanding, enterprises will go back to the definition of their Enterprise Architecture, looking back at their key business processes and understanding what services are required to support them.



Increasingly moving to cloud, enterprises are looking at using cloud for doing things. Some start in the software development space, others want to move their existing applications to the cloud. The question is how to migrate those applications to the cloud, which applications to choose for that migration and where to host those applications (private, managed or public cloud). Application transformation to cloud is the focus of more and more discussions with CIOs and that will continue in 2014. Together with the transformation of applications, mobile enabling those is at the center of the attention. As smart phones and tablets become the norm, how to use those mobile devices to access the key enterprise applications, remains an open question. Transforming applications and mobile enabling them will be a hot topic in the near future.



IT has known development environments for as long as IT has existed. And they continue, although now we talk about platforms, and in a cloud context, focus on platforms as a service. Increasingly companies are using those platforms to develop new applications, taking full advantage of the middleware functionality provided by the environment. But that leads to another key term that is increasingly being discussed. And that term is lock-in. Fortunately open source platforms are available these days and in particular, CloudFoundry is getting more and more attention. One environment that should definitely be watched in 2014.



Enterprises have embraced cloud computing without thinking too much about what this meant for them. But some events in 2013, such as the closing of Nirvanix, has demonstrated the importance of being able to migrate from one environment to another at short notice. Avoiding lock-in is critical. And this leads to open source. OpenStack, CloudFoundry and other such community efforts get more and more attention and should be followed closely in 2014. However, when choosing a supplier it is important to understand how closely they adhere to the open source software, and where they provide private enhancements, as using those may result in locking yourself in in the same way as you do with private environments.



We already talked about mobile enabling applications. Mobility in general is remaining a hot topic. The BYOD debate is not over yet. As technology allowing the concurrent development for multiple environments becomes available, companies will increasingly use them to allow the access of their key information and functionality from a variety of devices with many form factors. Although the term may be less at the center of the debate, multi-device access is increasingly taken for granted. As the digital enterprise becomes a reality giving customers, suppliers, partners and other members of the eco-system access to the enterprise systems of engagement forces companies to open up their environments and applications. This however leads to another key term for 2014, and that is security.



Cybercrime seems there to stay, but is changing in nature. It’s no longer so much about brute force DDOS attacks than about stealing information that can be sold for profit. The 2013 Adobe case is a good example of what the future holds. Such intrusions are difficult to identify and many enterprises are not equipped to do so. It’s not an overstatement to say that security will be a hot topic in 2014. Many companies don’t want to talk about it too much, but the discussion is moving to the board. The implications of a cyber-attack increasingly affect enterprises as the European Union and others force them to recognize such attacks and warn their users. The result from a trust and brand perspective can be disastrous. Typically the monetary effect of an attack costs about 10 times the price of setting-up the appropriate protection. But will we be attacked, that’s the real question. By the way, are you not taking fire insurance, even if you expect never to have to face a fire?


When I originally wrote these lines, the cyber-attacks on SnapChat and Skype hadn't taken place yet. They just demonstrate security needs to be top of mind for CIOs. It's actually astonishing, online services are not taking more precautions.



Big data has been at the center of the discussions in 2013. But frankly, data is not important, what is critical for enterprises is information. Often the two terms are mixed. The other day, somebody pointed out to me he felt most people did not understand the difference. I believe that will become more apparent in 2014 when a number of enterprises will demonstrate how they use the data to understand their customer base, monetize the data they collect etc. The difference between data and information? Data is the raw content collected from a variety of places, information is what you can make from the data if you analyze it correctly. Reading tweets about your products, services or enterprise is data, understanding the sentiment they convey is information. As analytics tools improve, we will be able to understand how our environment, our eco-system operates, and that is what is valuable for companies.



This leads me to the last term, sensor, the internet of things. We’re just at the start of the hype here. But enterprises are already starting to monetize sensor information. The best known is probably Nike with its Fuel band. Fuel band is a sensor measuring your daily activity. It’s sold with the concept it allows you to understand how much calories you burn daily and how you compare with the friends in your environment. But it gives Nike a good understanding of what you do. As you are nicely asked to provide age, weight, height etc. Nike can easily understand the type of life you live. To improve your style of living, Nike can then suggest you products, services etc.


More enterprises will start using sensors to create new businesses, while addressing our requirements of a healthier life. Others will come up with totally different usage patterns. The key question is obviously how you ensure privacy in such environment. And this brings us back to the first term on the list.



I’m sure you’ll find terms are missing in my list. And frankly, I have a couple more also, but wanted to limit myself to 10. So, here they are. That being said, let’s pursue our discussions around them, and maybe some of the others, in 2014. In the meantime, may I wish you a wonderful new year? May your wishes be satisfied fully!

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