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In the acclaimed 2007 book, Where’s My Jetpack? author Daniel H. Wilson took a humorous look at the technologies 21st-century man was promised by industry visionaries and futurists, but never actually came about:  robot maids, vacations on the moon, food pills, and (as the title implies) jetpacks.

And as anyone who follows the IT industry knows, technologists and science fiction writers aren’t the only ones guilty of making technology predictions that are way off base. A few famous names in IT have had their share of misses also. Here are just a few:

  •    “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
    –Ken Olson, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

  • “We will never make a 32-bit operating system.”
    — Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, 1989

  •   “Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.”
    –1949, Popular Mechanics Magazine

With predictions like those, it’s easy to see why the insight of a single individual (even a wildly rich and famous individual) should be taken with the requisite grain of salt. With that in mind we thought we’d take a look at the areas the experts agree on, specifically the consensus view of the most important current trends in enterprise computing and the impacts they’ll have over the next few years.

Top Enterprise IT Trends to Watch

  1. Cloud Changes Everything, Everything Changes the Cloud – Research firm Gartner predicts that 60% of organizations will have some form of cloud adoption by next year, so the question of when cloud computing will arrive is largely settled—the cloud is already here. What industry watchers now speculate on is how the cloud itself may evolve.
    In a move similar to retailers Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s forays into tablet computing, Gartner and other industry analysts predict that non-IT organizations may begin to externalize their core competencies and provide their services via their own proprietary cloud platform. Industry experts also seem to universally agree that investments in products and services that enhance cloud adoption will far outpace average IT spend rates in the coming years, everything from app development to the hardware, software, and services that further cloud enablement or optimize cloud infrastructure.
  2. IT Gets Consumerized – The letters BYOD can drive fear into the hearts of IT managers. The phrase ‘Bring Your Own Device’ is often used to describe the consumerization of IT, a paradigm shift where employees’ consumer preferences (for mobile computing, app store convenience, social tools) have begun to shape the demands of enterprise computing requirements. Industry analysts like IDC, IDG, and IBM’s Expert Network agree that as the line between business and personal computing continues to blur, over the next several years CIOs will face major challenges in strategizing a flexible, secure environment that functions seamlessly across multiple platforms.
  3. Mobile Apps Explode – If you look at any app store today, the seemingly endless of the variety of choices may make you think that most of the apps that could be developed already have been, right? Well, not really. In fact, not by a long shot. Industry analysts at Yankee Group estimate the tablet market (consumer and enterprise combined) will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 81% between 2010 and 2015, and the general consensus is that along with the network capacity and flexibility required to accommodate this growth, web app development will match global demand for mobile devices. The infographic below from speaks to this exploding demand for apps.


  • Dealing with Big Data – IDC says that in 2012 the digital data growth rate is running at 48% annually, and industry experts agree that dealing with large, unstructured petabytes of data are one of the top issues for IT managers in the coming years. The challenge of mining an organization’s huge, heterogeneous archives for valuable insights and trends is considerable, and for the firms that offer intelligent analytic solutions for large, unstructured data sets, the near-term outlook is bright.

  • Business Goes Social – Whether you’re an enthusiastic Facebook addict or a more reluctant user suffering from social media fatigue, there’s no debating that the pervasive use of social media has changed the way we communicate with our friends, family, and how we interact with businesses. The consensus among the major industry analyst firms is that the social technologies, platforms, and capabilities that we use today as personal consumers will drive change in the workplace over the next several years. IDC says “Social Networking technologies—especially where they are being accelerated by mobile technologies—will be recognized as a mandatory component in every major IT vendor’s strategy.”

When we take a look at what industry experts believe will happen over the next few years in enterprise computing, the commonalities of their opinions point toward a much more complex, mobile environment where not only is data huge, but so are consumer expectations around convenience and collaboration tools.
So do you think we’ve missed any of the major trends that will impact the future of enterprise computing? I’d love to hear your thoughts.