Danish physicist Neils Bohr is credited with saying “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future.” And indeed, prognostications are often proven wrong, particularly regarding technology, sometimes absurdly so: for example, Businessweek magazine’s prediction that the paperless office was just a few years away—made in 1975.
But sometimes, predictions prove surprisingly prescient. Such is the case with Eric Knorr’s article, 9 trends for 2014 and beyond, published in InfoWorld in November 2013. The piece remains as fresh and relevant today as it was a year ago. Here’s a look at some of those predictions and how they fit with another trend: the growing interest in extending the service catalog beyond IT across the enterprise, using an enterprise request management (ERM) strategy.
Cloud is the new hardware. "All big industry shifts have been driven by new computing platforms, from the PC to client-server to the Internet."
While corporate data centers are unlikely to disappear anytime soon, cloud computing is clearly an attractive option for many types of applications, and many (if not most) new software implementations. The typical IT infrastructure in most large organizations for the foreseeable future will be a mix of on-premises hardware and hybrid clouds—a mix of private and public cloud resources.
Ideally, IT organizations will act as brokers of cloud services, using an ERM portal to present cloud options to business application developers along with information on costs and capabilities, enabling developers to select from approved (and secure) options the services that best fit their needs.
Systems of engagement lead the way. “Where the cloud shines is in powering ‘systems of engagement’: customer-facing Web and mobile applications."
Business needs—as well as expectation from employees for consumer-like interfaces to business applications and data—are changing rapidly. But expensive, time-consuming “rip and replace” implementations are not the only option for adapting to changing needs and improving business processes.
Using ERM tools to provide intuitive, web/mobile access to core legacy management and control applications--i.e., using modern systems of engagement to access in-place systems of record--enables organizations to improve business processes, reduce costs, and improve the user experience without the significant time and cost of implementing new enterprise applications. Improvements can be seen in 30-90 days and at a modest cost.
Big data gets ahead of itself. What matters is smart data.
By centralizing requests for services, enterprises can more easily be smart about predicting demand, understanding the true costs of services, and measuring actual fulfillment times—that is, service level experiences (SLEs) rather than just service level agreements (SLAs). Services requested, whether discrete or bundled, can be tracked back to a service portfolio and tied to real allocated costs (infrastructure, supplies, and/or people) in any department. Without the demand data portion of this equation (via an ERM solution), cost-efficient capacity management is just a guessing game.
Cloud integration moves to the fore. Close. What matters is enterprise service integration. Point-to-point data integrations are inherently unstable and impossible to maintain at scale. Using tools that embrace open standards and Web services enable organizations to integrate applications and data at the service level instead, providing scalability and manageability.
Identity is the new security. As high-profile corporate data breaches continue to make the news, from Target and Home Depot to iCloud and Snapchat, enterprises continue to beef up data security measures. But too often, security processes are optimized within corporate silos, e.g., HR is using HR security best practices, facilities manages physical access, etc.. Such an approach may (or may not) be effective, but it is almost certainly not efficient.
Utilizing an ERM approach to data security improves both risk management and process efficiency. By cutting out manual efforts and redundant data entry, it reduces the risk of data errors while improving productivity—providing superior protection for both digital and physical assets while reducing costs.
In terms of service request management, the ERM approach enables services and information to be presented based on each user's identity (log in). So, for example, any user may be able to request a reset for a forgotten email password, but only managers can request pay rate changes for employees—and only for the employees in their specific department.
Unquestionably, developers will continue to be in high demand. But for back-end process automation, ERM offers at least a partial alternative: empowering business users with tools that enable them to map their own process workflows, test, modify, deploy, and clone them—all with minimal technical assistance. Developers aren't completely removed from the enterprise service catalog build-out, but their efforts can be geometrically leveraged by giving business process owners with graphical tools to create service items and fulfillment workflow processes.
Predicting the future is hard. But forward-thinking CIOs and business executives are focused on using ERM and other innovative approaches to create the future, rather than worrying about predicting it.