30.12.2014

Crystal Balls

2014 is almost a wrap, there is one single business day left and then all eyes are on 2015. It is high-season for revisiting and highlighting recent past achievements but also for submitting forecasts and making predictions. Some have made a lucrative business out of predictions and in the IT industry there are a couple of crystal-balls which are regarded as authorities such as Gartner, Forrester, IDC, RedMonk et.al.

With regards to predicting the future, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of bloggers who all take a stab at listing their Top X trends, hot-topics and predictions. It would be interesting to validate these predictions in hindsight to see who was most accurate. Especially those who sell their predictions should be analyzed to rank them by precision. This is of course impossible as predictions are typically not measurable or accurately time-bound and they are intentionally blurred of metrics. Predictions are the building blocks of hype. Making predictions is easy, but making substantiated ones is not. Social, Mobile, Analytics & Cloud a.k.a. SMAC is probably the most seen hype-term in 2014 – what will be the 2015 SMAC which is on everyone’s lips?

There are also countless forecasts out there. Compared to predictions, forecasts are typically quantified estimates of market-share, market-growth, change in volume, adoption rates, erosion rates etc. of software, solutions, platforms, technology etc. At best, forecasts can be meaningful and even useful for macro-level planning and validate one’s own perception of how the future will unfold and develop.

So if I kick-off with this critique, why do I still find predictions interesting? Some of them are reassuring and confirm my own views and are insightful. It is also good to see what the “big boys” (e.g. IDC and Gartner) say – and these will surely be the words on the street of many of our customers. When you leaf through more than a few of these lists and de-hype them, remove excessive buzz and put them in your own context, they might start to become meaningful. One of the main issues, especially with the global predictions is that they are often low-volume early signs and adoption maturity varies by industry and market.

What do I regard as my contextual list of 2015 predictions? My context is (for the sake of simplicity) the SAP centered enterprise application market in the Nordic Countries and my mission is to be transmission between hype and reality – I need to plan my business formula so that I am ahead of the game but still run a healthy business. My top 4 would be:

  1. The commerce-driven enterprise application framework drives digital transformation (Bilot Blog Library) – In the broadest sense of it, commerce-driven solutions are rich digital business platforms with a strong accent on customer engagement. These will start to transform the enterprise application market and redefine the value-proposition of IT. Our definition of it is enabling and empowering Digital Business Solutions with embedded (predictive) analytics, smart MDM, advanced UX, collaboration and comprehensive integration – for everyone, everywhere and anywhere. In practice, a commerce-driven enterprise application framework is the platform for digital transformation. It is all about disruptiveness, customer-centricity and innovation.
  2. Practical Big Data begins to bloom (Bilot Blog Library) – Big Data has soon to have been de-hyped and dubbed as Practical Big Data and also it has been fully digested by early adopters – the practical implications can now be seen by the naked eye. We now know what the fuss is about and after the first successful proven use cases behind us, we believe that the market will mature extensively in 2015. One interesting variance in practical big data is IoT, which will also take a practical appearance and with the help of meaningful use-cases, become main-stream in 2015.
  3. Cloud-enabled business applications become the new normal (Bilot Blog Library) – Cloud itself is already a commodity, but cloud-native, enterprise-grade business applications have only recently appeared on the horizon. The threshold for broader market adoption is not a technical one – it is about attitude, about different buying patterns even about policies. The opportunities are almost limitless, the technology is largely proven, the availability of solutions is rapidly increasing and adoption rates will accelerate exponentially in 2015. Cloud is also a business-platform for globally channeled business applications. Mass-customized business solutions easily have a global reach with cloud. This transforms the value-creation paradigm of the entire eco-system of software developers and systems integrators. 2015 will show a renaissance of new white-label SaaS solutions, OEM solutions and partner-developed enhancements which use the building blocks of standard software and take them to a completely new level of richness.
  4. SAP HANA reaches cruising altitude (Bilot Blog Library) – SAP HANA is already a household name and the common rhetoric is taking shape. The full potential has yet to be harnessed and especially building business applications in HANA Enterprise Cloud and starting to transform this revolutionary technology into competitive advantage is just up to the customers internalizing its capabilities. The eruption started in 2014 and will continue in 2015. Reducing complexity is high on the trend-agenda. SAP HANA is the foundation for S-Innovation where HANA-based applications e.g. SimpleFinance will rapidly unfold the roadmap for SimpleSAP.

So now I can also be accused making (empty) predictions for 2015. I just couldn’t resist the temptation. On the other hand, it comes a good exercise to calibrate your own predictions against others’, just to see what happens to global predictions when you localized them to your own business environment.

It will be interesting to revisit these predictions in 12 months’ time to see if they were at all in line with what eventually took place. And if I am proven wrong, it was just because I was just way ahead of my time :-).

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Mika Tanner

Bilot Alumni