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Digital Transformation Prognostications for 2015 By @TheEbizWizard [#IoT]

The change we face every day is all of these and more – and it continues to accelerate exponentially, unabated

Whoever actually came up with the purportedly Chinese curse exhorting us to live in interesting times surely had no inkling of the insane level of change permeating today’s technology-fueled business world. There are so many individual threads of this story that even finding one end of the string presents a Gordian challenge.

Today we speak of digital transformation, representing customer-driven technology choices upending traditional business models and associated processes. But perhaps this period is better thought of as the big data revolution, or the age of cloud computing, or maybe the rise of the Internet of Things, or my personal favorite, The Agile Architecture Revolution.

In reality, the change we face every day is all of these and more – and it continues to accelerate exponentially, unabated. Interesting times, indeed.

As this article is the final Cortex of the year, I thought I would continue the tradition we started at ZapThink well over a decade ago, and prognosticate about the year to come.

Prediction #1: Disruption in the wearables marketplace
Let’s begin with a particularly active corner of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the wearables market. Wearables include wristbands that monitor your vital signs, augmented reality glasses, blood glucose-monitoring contact lenses, and more. The busiest part of this market are the fitness wearables – wristbands and other devices that help you exercise and achieve other fitness goals.

The problem with fitness wearables today, however, is that there are far too many of them, including Adidas miCoach Smart Run, Basis Peak, Fitbit One, Fitbit Flex, Fitbit Zip, Garmin Vivofit and Vivosmart, Jawbone UP24, Magellan Echo, Microsoft Band, Misfit Flash, Motorola MOTOACTV, Nike+ FuelBand, Nike+ SportWatch, Runtastic Orbit, TomTom Runner Cardio, Wahoo Fitness TICKR, Withings Pulse O2 – to name but a few, with many more to hit the market soon.

It seems there are more individual products than there are interested customers! Clearly there is a surfeit of choices for such a nascent market to bear – and furthermore, most of the devices end up in the drawer after a few weeks anyway. Who wants to be shamed by their wristwatch?

My prediction: a significant upheaval in this space in 2015. We may see companies go belly up or exit the wearables space, and we’ll certainly see investors abandoning this market to seek better opportunities elsewhere.

Prediction #2: Hyperscale data centers will become a hot topic for enterprises
Hyperscale
is a term that represents the ability of a datacenter to scale as demand increases – but in general, the notion of a hyperscale data center simply means a really, really big data center – like the kinds that Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon run, typically for public cloud environments.

The current generation of enterprise data centers are unlikely to fall into the hyperscale category, as companies rarely intended to build massively scalable data centers for their own internal use. Furthermore, it’s never cost effective to try to turn an older data center into a hyperscale one, as you’d essentially need to replace all the gear anyway. You might as well start from scratch.

Today, enterprises who need massive scalability either turn to the public cloud providers, or more likely turn to a hosting provider who can build a private cloud that fits the bill. At a certain point, however, building your own hyperscale data center from the ground up becomes more cost effective than outsourcing it.

Only a few enterprises will be talking hyperscale in 2015, however. We’re still talking the largest of the large here, at least for now: the biggest telcos, banks, and massive companies like the GEs and Walmarts of the world.

You can think of such efforts as building a public cloud for your own enterprise use – which of course, would make it a private cloud. Perhaps it is better to think of such enterprise hyperscale data centers as next-generation private clouds.

Either way, I predict significant buzz around enterprise hyperscale data centers in 2015 (although actually building them will spill into 2016 and beyond).

Prediction #3: A large enterprise customer will publicly call Gartner’s digital transformation advice into question
It’s no secret that I’m a public critic of Gartner. True, they have many good people, and some of their advice is spot on. I like to joke, however, that one third of what they say is useful, one third is obvious, and the remaining third is complete nonsense. The challenge, of course, is figuring out which is which.

I’ve gone on the record criticizing Gartner’s advice on Bimodal IT – but there are other weaknesses and contradictions in their advice as well. The good news is, people are getting wise. Now that we’re in the midst of a period of upheaval (Gartner’s Nexus of Forces), good advice is particularly hard to come by.

My prediction: I won’t be the only one calling them to account. One of their big enterprise customers will do the same, creating a broad backlash and renewed assessment of the role IT industry analysts play in helping executives make critical decisions.

Prediction #4: A shakeup in the public cloud provider market as IBM moves up and Amazon moves down
Amazon’s cloud efforts are under pressure from two sides: first, their downward pricing strategy is petering out as their competition achieves comparable economies of scale, and second, their penetration of the enterprise is faltering as their self-service cloud model is reaching the limits of its appeal. Furthermore, they’re not compensating adequately for these pressures with a coherent digital strategy.

IBM, on the other hand, is playing its cards quite well. IBM’s traditional enterprise expertise is rubbing off on SoftLayer, and their BlueMix PaaS offering promises to drive the enterprise cloud business Amazon has struggled to capture.

My prediction: the big three public cloud service providers – Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform – will become the big four, as IBM SoftLayer expands dramatically and Amazon comes under pressure with its enterprise-unfriendly approach.

Prediction #5: A critical mass of grass-roots interest in user-controlled identity will finally coalesce
Identity management has always been a centralized activity. Companies run identity management servers for their employees, while consumers must rely on various third parties to manage their identities for them.

Those third parties – from social media providers to cable companies to ecosystem providers like Apple and Google – love controlling user identities, as such control is critical to gathering data about individuals and targeting them with advertising.

We consumers, however, are getting fed up with this routine. Every day it seems there’s a security breach that compromises our identities. We also don’t want our mobile apps or iBeacons in stores or other devices in our environment knowing who we are so they can saturate us with marketing noise. As consumers, we want to be in control.

The good news is that there are a good number of vendors who are working on next-generation technology for empowering individual users to take control of their identities once and for all. The bad news is that big companies don’t like the idea, as they’d rather retain the control – and investors have mostly steered clear as a result.

My prediction: 2015 will be the year this balance of power finally shifts to consumers, as people will finally get sufficiently fed up and demand technology that empowers them to take control of their own identities. Once this call is loud enough, investor money will begin to pour into the market, and the feeding frenzy will begin.

The Intellyx Take – Polishing the Crystal Ball
The best way to make predictions is to identify an existing trend with a clear pattern, and extrapolate that pattern into the future. The pattern this Cortex is tapping into, however, is a pattern of repeated, accelerating disruptions – a pattern of patternlessness, as it were.

As a result, predicting that there will continue to be disruptions into the future is the easy part. Making reasonable guesses about the results of such disruptions, on the other hand, is exceptionally difficult. We’re not looking at trends so much as predicting the transformation of trends.

Take these predictions, therefore, at face value. Don’t base your investment strategy on them. Instead, use them as talking points – starting points for your own discussions about the future. Your guesses have as much chance as mine of coming true, but accuracy isn’t the goal. The true value of such prognostication is the process of consideration and debate.

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: Walter Lim.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

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