Maybe you're doing some of your own 2012 planning right now?
I thought I'd try and help out by offering up my own personal predictions for those of us in the IT industry: vendors, customers and partners alike.
These pronouncements aren’t really meant to be definitive -- just hopefully provoke a bit of thought and discussion.
You also might be interested in the predictions I made a year ago.
See what you think …
1. The New “Killer App”: Simplicity
Now, it seems the tide has turned.
We're all demanding apps that are not only easy and intuitive to use, but easy to find, easy to install -- and easy to consume wherever we go. If it isn’t simple, we’re not interested.
Documentation? Training? Forget it.
Think about it: things like Dropbox really don't do anything all that new (e.g. file sharing), it just makes file sharing incredibly simple. Ditto Spotify with music, and so on.
And I think enterprise application developers are starting to realize that apps are easier to consume will get consumed more -- and thus deliver more value. Those of us who built IT infrastructure products (like EMC) now understand this more than ever.
Expect more single-function enterprise apps, expect them to show up in a variety of enterprise app stores, and expect them to work well with other similar apps you're likely to have or want.
It’s been true for consumers for a while; in 2012 it moves to the enterprise.
2. In the Enterprise, Everyone’s A Consumer: Start Thinking "Mobile First".
More and more of us knowledge workers are completely blurring the traditional lines betwen "work" and "life". We need to be able to work effectively wherever we might be, and that doesn't mean rooted behind a large screen, mouse and keyboard.
Unfortunately, there's much more to a good mobile experience than simply shrinking your user interface, o saying you support mobile browswers.
Besides obviously having native apps that are "finger-friendly", there are some thornier challenges afoot -- such as how can your app remain useful even if there's poor to no network signal? How do you cache (and secure) useful information before it's needed? How to do drive enterprise workflows -- especially collaborative ones -- across mobile and traditional devices?
And -- ultimately -- how do you secure the data when it's almost guaranteed you'll eventually leave the device in a taxi, bar, hotel room, etc.?
The mindset of many enterprise developers is going to have to change -- to a "mobile first" strategy, and then maybe a back-ported version to a traditional desktop. People are demanding applications that are easy to consume -- and part of that is the device that’s always in my hand.
Enterprise app developers -- are you listening? I think more of them will get the memo in 2012.
3. A New Strategy Question: What's Your Digital Business Model?
His premise is simple: successful companies are increasingly built on what he describes as a three part "digital business model": (1) content that delivers value and gets your customers engaged, (2) a rich and social experience that increases your engagement and perceptions of value, and (3) a platform that delivers a continual stream of both content and experience.
He then took us through the usual suspects (e.g. Amazon, Apple, Google, etc.) as well as some non-traditional ones (e.g. USAA, Nike, etc.).
He thus made a reasonably compelling case that those companies who had a discernable digital business model were arguably doing better than those who didn't.
I love Peter Weill because he has this knack of thinking about familiar things in entirely new (and ultimately productive) ways. This is no exception. During the presentation, I immediately fell into a deep contemplative funk wondering (a) if EMC could articulate its internal strategy, and (b) how many customers I knew of who could do the same.
During 2012, I'm going to try and answer both. Perhaps you might want to think about it as well.
4. Choosing A Career? Data Science is White Hot
Demand for smart people who can artfully blend advanced math with social sciences and have a knack for visualization and storytelling -- well, they're in incredibly short supply.
And it doesn't look like a bubble to me (like web design was in 1995) -- it looks like a sustained need for an entirely new class of important knowledge worker.
I've got one offspring already in college, and two more headed there. As a parent, I'm doing my level best to expose them to this relatively new career opportunity. You might want to do the same.
As an employer, you're going to inevitably want a team of these people on your staff. And you're going to have to arm them with the tools and processes to let them do what they do best: exploit the new opportunity that big data is creating.
5. Enterprise IT: Now Forced To Compete
Business users are increasingly aware that internal IT is just one of many places where they can get the IT resources they need.
The internal IT monopoly is breaking up; and no pact with the procurement folks -- or stern memos from exec management -- is going to stem this inevitable tide.
More and more IT leaders now realize they face the challenge of restructuring their internal IT function to compete for internal users the same way external IT service providers do. Fail to do that, and it won't be a pretty picture in the long run.
I often get asked where should people start. I think it starts with an deep acknowledgement that the IT world has fundamentally changed, and it's not going back to the way it was anytime soon.
6. The New Cloud Skills: Time to Cram, They’re In Demand
IT professionals now have a unique opportunity to invest in the new skills, and greatly increase their value in the IT marketplace.
EMC (among others) is investing in creating the coursework and certifications around this new class of "cloud credentials".
And I think in 2012 we'll see phenomenal demand for this new skill set -- in just about every geography and industry.
Maybe 2012 will be the year you’ll invest in these new skills – if you haven’t already.
7. IT Security: Time To Think Differently
The answer is unequivocally "yes" -- the value of information assets is increasing, and there are entirely new well-organized and well-funded actors at work.
The specific threats themselves aren't all that new; what's new are the actors: their resources, strategies and ultimate intent.
New classes of risks require new responses.
My guess is that during 2012 we'll see more and more IT security functions starting to be re-envisioned around new roles, new processes and new supporting technology platforms -- ones that reflect the new realities of the stakes at hand.
8. Focused IT Service Providers: More Attractive Than Ever
It's one thing to hand over IT workloads to a big, faceless and undifferentiated IT service provider – an extremely unattractive proposition to so many IT leaders, and justifiably so.
But it's another thing entirely to work with an IT service provider who has invested the time to know you, your IT landscape, your industry, etc.
I continue to see strong growth from IT service providers who really understand what "service" is all about. These tend to be smaller, more nimble players focusing on a region, or a vertical, or some other segment where they can differentiate.
And I expect that growth to continue during 2012.
More and more IT leaders are realizing they can't do everything in-house, nor should they attempt to. Rather, they're starting to strike up relationships with trust-able IT service providers, and going through the rationalization of what makes sense to do in-house, and what makes sense to have someone else do on your behalf.
IT is quickly going from "builder of everything" to "builder-broker".
Many of us call this approach “hybrid cloud”. It’s also referred to as “right-sizing” or “workload rationalization”. Whatever you call it, the idea is to focus internal IT resources on things that matter, and give the rest to someone else. And we’re seeing this happen faster around focused IT service providers than anywhere else.
9. Costs Will Drop, Consumption Will Go Up
As we head into 2012, we're likely to see a perfect-storm triple-whammy of IT cost declines.
The technology components (e.g. hardware and software) look like they're going to get much cheaper, thanks to industry standard technologies and open source variants.
The operational costs are dropping fast too, thanks to investments in increased automation -- both by vendors and customers.
And cost-to-consume is starting to fall fast as well, thanks to the proliferation of convenient consumption portals that are sprouting up everywhere.
Call it cloud, call it whatever you like -- it looks like the cost-to-serve for a unit of IT is going to fall like a rock during 2012.
You (and your CFO) shouldn't be celebrating, though.
If history repeats itself, we'll all end up spending much more on technology (in aggregate) than before.
A whole lot more.
10. And, Of Course, Much More Information Than Ever Before
I know, big surprise, right?
Blame the internet, blame declining technology costs, blame mobile devices, blame whatever you like -- there are many potential suspects in this story.
My view is that we're transitioning to an information economy. Big Data and analytics are central characters in the next chapter of this play.
Information -- in all its forms -- is now the stuff that can potentially create wealth, avoid risks, improve our lives -- maybe even cure cancer.
There's going to be a lot more of it going forward, so you might as well start to get used to it, the sooner the better.
And -- just maybe -- during 2012, fewer people will see this as a problem, and more people will see this as an opportunity.
I know I do.