Ah, yes, the holiday season. A surprising dearth of snow, crass commercialism, yet another skirmish in the perennial ‘war on Christmas.’ And sure enough, the pinnacle of punditry: tech predictions for the New Year.
At Intellyx, however, we’re adding a twist: in keeping with our long-standing tradition at ZapThink, we’ll score our results from the previous year, before gazing into the crystal ball once again.
And since this is our second annual installment of our Digital Prognostications, it’s finally time to see how we did.
We made five predictions in our prognostications from last December. First, we predicted a disruption in the wearables marketplace, even going so far as listing eighteen entrants to this exploding corner of the Internet of Things.
Of the eighteen, only one – the Motorola MOTOACTV – appears to have exited the market. Disruption? More like a ripple. We can say that the rate the number of new products is entering this space has clearly tapered off, however. Fitbit seems to have turned a corner, while the other new players haven’t yet run out of runway. Will any of them reach the end of the line in 2016? We wouldn’t be surprised.
Next up: hyperscale data centers will become a hot topic for enterprises. For this prediction, our accuracy depends on what we mean by ‘hot topic.’ Enterprises are rapidly divesting their corporate-owned data centers for third party, hyperscale data centers, both for collocation and public clouds – so this transition is a hot topic to be sure.
But don’t expect too many enterprises to be building their own hyperscale data centers – or any other kind of data center, for that matter – any time soon.
Third, we expected a large enterprise customer to call Gartner’s digital transformation advice into question. The good news: my personal crusade to point out the weaknesses in Gartner’s bimodal advice has been joined by a cadre of other people. I rounded up a number of opinions for a recent Forbes article on the topic, and fellow pundit and all around curmudgeon Phil Wainewright from Diginomica grabbed the ball and ran with it.
A number of enterprise professionals have confided in me their dissatisfaction with Gartner’s poor leadership on this topic. Whether any of them will go public, however, will likely depend on the spectacular digital failures that are likely to result if they follow the advice anyway. Whether any have the courage to do so will have to wait until 2016.
Fourth: A shakeup in the public cloud provider market, as IBM moves up and Amazon moves down. We almost nailed this one – but only if you replace Amazon with AT&T. ‘Moving down’ was the furthest thing from Amazon’s mind in 2015 to be sure – but in recent news, AT&T exited the managed application and managed hosting services business, handing over the keys to IBM, who will align these operations with their cloud portfolio.
Managed applications and hosting are not the same thing as cloud to be sure, but these lines of business represented AT&T’s best effort to move up the food chain from ‘dumb pipes’ to cloud nirvana – the digital transformation that telcos have been attempting for years. So the fact that they bailed on this business indicates they were unable to compete in this cutthroat market.
Finally, we predicted a critical mass of interest in user-controlled identity. We jumped the gun on this one. Instead of user-controlled identity, the market has seen a rise in alternative payment mechanisms, in particular Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay. Now Target and Walmart are joining the mobile payment fray. Our updated prediction: we won’t see huge demand for user-controlled identity until such time as consumers get fed up with how these mobile payment systems handle their personal information.
Without further ado, here are our predictions for the coming year.
Blockchain Eclipses Bitcoin
As an alternative currency with no central clearinghouse, Bitcoin has achieved a modicum of success, even though it is neither the answer to Libertarian anti-banking lunacy nor a cost-effective alternative to credit cards. Perhaps it will gain traction as a currency of choice in the developing world – or perhaps not.
Blockchain, however, is another matter. This novel technology is how Bitcoin is able to achieve its decentralization while remaining secure, but potential applications go well beyond the alternative currency, as it can facilitate any sort of peer-to-peer or multi-party transaction.
Our prediction for 2016: the buzz around Blockchain will surpass that of Bitcoin itself. Perhaps 2016 is the year for a Bitcoin-free, Blockchain-based service to take off, or perhaps only the hype will predominate. But expect to see Blockchain’s star rise as Bitcoin’s loses its luster.
IoT Security Turns a Corner
Everybody’s gone gaga for the Internet of Things – except for one problem: security. Putting sensors and controls into everything from dishwashers to stoplights, and then putting all those gadgets on the Internet, is a hand-engraved invitation for hackers.
This Death Star-sized hole in the IoT has not gone unnoticed by cybersecurity vendors, of course – and there are plenty of products either on or approaching the market to address various aspects of the IoT security conundrum.
Our prediction: overall enterprise sentiment on IoT security will shift from too risky to do more than dabble to we’ve got this covered, so full speed ahead. Security won’t be perfect, of course. I’m sure there will continue to be breaches, well past 2016 in fact. But the perennial risk vs. reward scales will finally shift from risk to reward.
Open Source Web Scale Tech Hits the Enterprise
Hadoop was merely a harbinger. Today we have a plethora of open source initiatives that one way or another distill the best practices of web scale companies like Google, Salesforce, and others. On this list: Cassandra NoSQL database, Kafka message broker, Solr enterprise search server, and Storm real-time event computation system, among others (all from the Apache foundation).
However, one name is intentionally absent from this list: OpenStack. Compared to the projects mentioned above, we believe OpenStack’s best days are now behind it, and this effort will largely stall in 2016.
The four Apache projects above, in contrast, are in varying stages of maturity, with work going on at a frenetic pace. As a result, enterprises have largely taken a wait-and-see approach to them up to this point.
Our prediction for 2016, however, is that we’ll see an inflection point in enterprise adoption of various combinations of these web scale efforts, as well as other open source web scale initiatives that are also ramping up quickly.
The three predictions above all center on inflection points – not just trends, but occasions where trends themselves reach some kind of milestone. Timing such predictions is difficult, but we’re never afraid to stick our necks out.
If we chose to predict the continuation of ongoing trends, however, our lives would have been much easier. Disruption? Yes, and more to come. Digital transformation hits and misses, especially misses? You bet. Crazy money pouring into even crazier businesses? Bring it on. Hype, hype, and more hype? Unquestionably.
One final prediction: we’ll be ramping up the promotion of my upcoming book Agile Digital Transformation. Don’t want to miss the fun? Be sure to subscribe to our Cortex newsletter. If you’ve already subscribed, then refer a few friends and colleagues. See you in 2016!
Intellyx advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers. Image credit: Steve Jurvetson.