Once treated as nothing more than another business cost center, IT is now an integral aspect of the business itself – and corporate decision makers are starting to catch on.
In the years to come, organizations with the most promising growth prospects won’t be those that “waited for the platforms to mature” or “stuck with what they knew.” They’ll be the ones that embraced the inevitability of change and invested in modern, scalable technologies that allow them to interact with customers in ever changing ways.
So what are these all-important IT innovations? Without discounting that there are several, perhaps hundreds, of emerging technologies aimed at enterprise IT, here are three that I see in the market where I work that will have a lasting impact on business.
1. Big data
I recently had a neighbor, who works in IT himself, jokingly ask what the hype of Big Data really was. We chuckled because we know that to a large extent it is simply a marketing term. But honestly it isn’t just hype, there is something real happening. What may have been 2012’s biggest buzzword has transformed into 2013’s biggest reality. Big data isn’t just for Facebook’s display ads or Google’s search results. Data is information, and good information is how good decisions are made. It’s how large organizations are quietly improving every aspect of how they operate.
High-quality data helps organizations get a handle on their performance in a variety of categories, which, in turn, helps them make better decisions about how and where to direct human, technical, and monetary resources. The goal, of course, is improving the bottom line and enhancing long-term competitiveness.
With better information at hand, big data’s believers will ultimately make fewer mistakes – and more intelligent business decisions – than their industry peers.
Another activity in enterprise IT, one that I see often in my work, is the modernization of the largest of enterprise applications, legacy applications; mainframes and otherwise. What is happening is these legacy apps, apps that companies run on, are being ‘re-wired’ to natively talk to message queues (MQ). This might seem trivial and not all that new, it is work that has been going on in the background for years, but it is an activity that is now really starting to make an impact on how businesses can operate.
Message queues have become that standard for connecting one business application to another – they underpin almost every multi-tier application in IT. That’s because MQ’s advantages of freeing up data and nullifying the uniqueness of the systems the applications run on allow businesses to easily use data from any system whenever and however they want. Same value as big data, better access to applications and their data allows the business to operate more effectively.
Maybe I’ll add a little plug for web services too. I add the web services comment because in my Verastream work we have spent a good amount of time adding web service front-ends onto legacy applications – these are the legacy applications that can’t shoulder the cost of being ‘re-wired’ for direct MQ participation. Hence the web service route which ultimately provides the same benefits, but without the same costs – these web service additions let the legacy apps join the MQ solution without actually having to build-in the MQ support.
3. Cloud + Open Source
The 3rd area is the combination of trends. Before considering either of these concepts, let us first note that cloud computing can be stated as a content delivery model and open source a style of open or community-based licensing that has extended impact on how products can be developed. They are different. Though frequently discussed in the same breath, it’s not useful to compare one to the other, and it certainly won’t be attempted here.
So, why talk about cloud and open source technologies as if they have some indelible relationship?
Because open source development is fueling the growth of private clouds – computing resources shared among users in a single organization – as well as other cloud resources of serious consequence to the enterprise. Such technologies include CRM, content management, and other collaboration tools.
Remember: the cloud improves our data access and open source, if not directly improving our software, is dramatically lowering the bar to acquiring the necessary infrastructure. This is the perfect storm of IT innovation. The cloud has its well documented benefits. What open source provides is a route to cost effectively create our own private clouds.
For decision makers willing to embrace change, these developments aren’t just “something to be mindful of.” They’re opportunities for unprecedented growth and innovation, regardless of the industry.