Oracle Voice, 12/29/2014
By: Michael Hickins, Oracle
The annual ritual of predicting the future of technology is as humbling as it is fun.
Technology is intimately tied to global events, and anyone who doubts this need only look to the recent hacking into Sony’s systems, allegedly in retaliation for a movie depicting a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader. The world has a nasty habit of intruding into Silicon Valley’s ivory tower of limitless progress.
As we look to the year ahead, we have yet to digest the impact of new climate change treaties, the precipitous tumble in oil prices, and the possibility of rising interest rates on global business. That said, the maturation of certain technologies, coupled with imperatives already imposed by outside forces, could lead to some interesting developments in the world of technology:
The enterprise selfie. Most large organizations have been experimenting with some sort of big data implementation, with big ambitions for using data from disparate sources (including social media and transactional data) to capture more market share. This will continue apace, but so will more introspective use of big data, as companies discover hidden gems stored hither and yon throughout the organization. Better discovery tools and a greater focus on retaining and developing internal talent as unemployment continues falling in many markets (notably the US) will drive this trend.
The emerging dominance of hybrid clouds. Cloud computing has truly come into its own, but the landscape is still littered with futile debates about the benefits of public and private clouds. The truth is that as cloud becomes more familiar and demystified, customers will look for the solution that meets their needs most closely. On-premise, private, and public cloud discussions will give way to discussions about the best ways to manage an application or suite of applications. Oh yes, and this trend will reveal the incredible importance of application integration in the cloud.
Lines of business mean business. We’ve seen a number of non-tech executives, such as chief marketing officers, gain influence in technology budgets—and deployments. This trend will embolden and inspire other executives (in HR, for example) to do the same in their domains—and to reach out to chief information officers for their help in picking vendors, developing data governance rules, and helping them further their technology exposure.
The return of the dev-ops Jedi. The rise of cloud computing will include a huge shift in how human technology resources are deployed, and one manifestation of this will be in the rise of customized cloud apps. Oracle Cloud platform as a service will allow its customers to develop extensions to software as a service applications using the same programming language Oracle uses. Savvy organizations will jump at the opportunity to use their best developers to help create apps that provide competitive differentiation and greater market share.
Data encryption. Not a new technology by any means, but then again, computer hacking isn’t exactly new either. But 2014 was clearly an inflection point in the perception of cybercrime, as business leaders began to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the potential for industrial espionage and criminal enterprises to sabotage their strategies. As Oracle CEO Mark Hurd noted during recent trips abroad, Oracle’s Cloud encrypts all data both in its database and in its applications; that’s the surest insurance against data leakage of any form.
Corporate boardrooms will talk about data capital, not just big data. Data is now a kind of capital—it has value like money. It’s as necessary for creating new products, services, and ways of working as financial capital. For CEOs, this means securing access to, and increasing use of, data capital by digitizing and data-fying key activities with customers, suppliers, and partners before rivals do. For CIOs, this means providing data liquidity—the ability to get data the firm wants into the shape it needs with minimal time, cost, and risk.
Self-service discovery and visualization tools will come to big data. New data discovery and visualization tools will help people with expertise in the business—but not in technology—use big data in daily decisions. Much of this data will come from outside the firm and, therefore, beyond the careful curation of enterprise data policies. To simplify this complexity, these new technologies will combine consumer-grade user experience with sophisticated algorithmic classification, analysis, and enrichment under the hood. The result for business users will be easy exploration on big data, like knowing where the oil is before digging the well.
Internet of Clothing, also known as the Internet of Things. Yes, we’ve been speaking of connected machinery for a number of years now, but the advent of the Apple Watch is clearly a harbinger that connected stuff will reach a tipping point in 2015. We’ll begin to see the use of connected devices—in tandem with connected people—across a number of industries, from parking garages (“Special low rates here!”) to car insurance. Safe driver discounts take on new meaning when insurers know how suddenly you’re braking or how seldom you jerk the wheel.
3D printing—at last. We’ll begin to see large-scale use of 3D printing across a number of industries, from health care (artificial body parts) to oil field services (a lot easier to get replacement parts from a printer on an offshore rig than to wait for a delivery). It doesn’t hurt that Gartner is predicting that prices of 3D printers will fall 98% in 2015.
“Computer, calculate the distance to Alpha Centurion!” Typing on computers stinks; it’s even worse on tablets and smartphones, which is where the world is headed. In the new world of voice and visual interfaces, CIOs will eventually be able to ask their computers to integrate workloads from disparate silos while ordering pizza on their smartphones. Well, at least we know they’ll be able to order pizza. Seriously, we’ll see further advances in voice-activated consumer technology in 2015—advances that will carry over into business technology in the near future.