Companies are discovering that they must approach IT in radically different ways. Here are six technology trends that will sweep through the enterprise in 2014.
Emerging standards take hold in software-defined everything.
The virtualization of networking, storage solutions and data centers has revolutionized the way businesses operate, manage content and connect with third parties. However, "The explosion of software-defined solutions has grown so rapidly that there are few standards that mandate how data is stored, shared and managed between vendors and businesses," states Needham Bank's Gordon. Software-defined everything (SDx) takes direct aim at that challenge.
The term, as defined by Gartner, strives for "improved standards for infrastructure programmability and data center interoperability driven by automation inherent to cloud computing." But decoupling the hardware that executes the data transactions from the software layer that orchestrates them isn't an easy task—and not only for technical reasons.
Currently, SDx incorporates various initiatives, such as OpenStack, OpenFlow, the Open Compute Project and Open Rack. However, Gartner notes that other sticking points exist: "Vendors that dominate a sector of the infrastructure may only reluctantly want to abide by standards that have the potential to lower margins and open broader competitive opportunities—even when the consumer will benefit by simplicity, cost reduction and consolidation efficiency."
There are also the realities of operating a business. For example, Gordon says that public clouds are not compliant with the regulations he faces at Needham Bank.
Nevertheless, "Software-defined everything is moving beyond technology as organization apply the concept to business models, including people, structure and data," PwC's Archer says. "We are likely to see quite a bit of movement in the space in 2014."
Enterprise social collaboration grows and becomes more holistic.
Although it's nearly impossible to find an organization that hasn't been touched by social media, business and IT leaders continue to underutilize these tools internally. A recent McKinsey & Co. survey found that 80 percent of executives believe collaboration is critical to growth, but only 25 percent describe their organization as "effective" at collaboration.
"The value of social tools extends far beyond marketing and listening," Archer points out. "Employee collaboration is a natural next step as organizations look to increase the speed at which data moves."
In fact, emerging social collaboration tools largely deliver on the lost promise of 1990s-era knowledge management systems. Mobility, clouds, unified messaging and always-on Internet have made real-time communication possible, as well as making it easy to find experts within an enterprise. Archer says that these systems, when used effectively, serve as platforms for a wide array of interactions.
Ted Rubin, an independent consultant and co-author of Return on Relationship (Tate Publishing & Enterprises, 2013), points out that some organizations are increasingly connecting internal and external systems—sometimes through APIs. Using this approach, "It's possible to introduce an extremely high level of communication and transparency," he points out.
Originally published on Baseline.