Gartner’s Application Architecture, Development & Design Conference kicked off this morning in Las Vegas with the question, “Will there be an end to the increasing pace of technology change?” We all know the answer to that question, so the follow-up question is, “How do we protect legacy investment while remaining competitive…change without breaking the bank?”
Where will we invest?
Gartner’s Chris Howard addressed the issue of where to make investments, one of the most important things to decide in the midst of change. Investment is an opportunity and a risk. We also decide where not to invest and that’s liberating and stressful at the same time.
The investment appears to be in analytics and business intelligence (BI) as the highest technology priority coming from Gartner’s surveys. Companies know they need ways to see things that are emerging…out on the edge and far away from the relatively static data warehouse. This isn’t surprising when you think about the Nexus of Forces that Gartner ties to how the game is changing. Social, Mobile, Cloud and Information make up the Nexus.
Howard took the audience through the Nexus of Forces in greater detail:
- Social – “Extreme behavior” is about IT pulling back from end-to-end design. Howard used Apple as an example of providing platforms for people to build around rather than controlling the experience. “Put stuff out to the crowd” before bringing it back to decide on architecture.
- Mobile - “Pervasive access “is about many form factors. Laptops, iPads and iPhones all have different purposes and architectures need to deliver the experience the user seeks on the device that is preferred for that use.
- Information – “Big context” is about knowing where people are, how they’re feeling and what we can ask people to give of themselves to get something back.
- Cloud – “Global class delivery” is industrial strength commoditized services that are so common that organizations should stop doing it themselves.
Howard closed by pointing out that people, not electrons, are driving the next generation of technology and if IT isn’t prepared to support this, people will find a way around their own support folks.
Internet of Things, disruption and obsolescence
Gartner Managing VP Jeff Schulman took the stage next to talk about the Internet of Things, the idea that disruptive devices like the Nest thermostat will be part of 2 billion connected devices that need to be connected, and interacted with in the next five years. He asked the elephant-in-the-room question, “What kind of architecture and network do you have to have to manage this?” He predicted that the Internet of Things will drive the need for management for upwards of ten operating systems simultaneously. He called what GE and others are investing in, “A central nervous system for the planet” that changes the game.
Boiling it down, these challenges make much of what we do obsolete. Architecture, integration, application development, organization, strategy, and vendors that aren’t shifting along with this change will be made obsolete.
Integration in the cross hairs
Schulman told us that Gartner predicts that by 2016, mid to large companies will spend 33% more on application integration than they will in 2013 and over 50% of cost of new applications will be just the integration piece. This makes integration highly critical and an enormous challenge when so many vendors dismiss getting systems running as, “Just a matter of integration.” They probably aren’t in the integration space…and I couldn’t agree with Schulman more on this.
“IT in the next decade will be unrecognizable.” — Schulman’s closing words.
“Let’s start with the money”
Valentin Sribar was the last to take the stage and talked about the traditional IT spend being heavily weighted toward maintaining every great idea from the past, leaving less and less to innovate and spend on “the cool new stuff.” Costs continue to rise but reflect a form of doubling down on legacy ways of doing business. The C-level of the company quickly gets jaded when the technology budgets rise but innovation stagnates.
Sribar’s talked about the standard way IT has been trying to manage cost by cycles of looking at everything from vendor management to IT staffing. This has been the way the game was played for years, but Sribar pointed out that each time we go through these exercises, the rewards diminish. To Sribar, the real game changers are business process/business information and application rationalization as the way to “get over the wall” that the old game created. It is about getting out of an investment at the right time. When something new is in consideration, the question needs to be asked, “What will go away?”
Sridar recommends his TIME methodology, which drives application rationalization through decisions to Tolerate, Invest, Migrate or Elimante existing systems. He sees applications moving through the organization as first Systems of Innovation, becoming Systems of Differentiation, and maybe settling last as Systems of Record. Things won’t stay in the same place, so we need to have a dynamic way to decide where to spend, where not to, and how gain the non-technology side of the organization’s trust.
An interesting three-part keynote with a very appropriate unifying theme of Social, Mobile, Cloud and Information.
Photo credit: http://www.fromtheskye.com/blackjack-rules/