It was 2001 when I read “The Age of Spiritual Machines” written by Ray Kurzweil and subsequently fell in love with his exponential growth and coming age of singularity ideas. Back then, I thought of Ray’s predictions more so as herculean if not utterly impossible; but now, looking at the advancements from the last couple of years, it is quite clear that the future is about to arrive at a much faster rate than we had originally anticipated. The year 2015 will be one of the most important years for disruptive trends and will take us closer to Ray’s singularity dream. The most prominent trend throughout this year will be getting the value out of implemented technologies rather than the technologies themselves.
IT as a Solution Center
The IT departments will not be able to survive as a mere cost centers anymore. Their function has been evolving for some time and will continue to shift towards becoming solution centers. The CIOs will have to leverage technology to derive change across organizations. The new era of data will demand that CIOs change their roles from technology professionals to someone who understands the business strategy, company direction, business operations and most importantly how the organization makes money. Successful CIOs will be the enablers of change that companies need.
It would not be a stretch to say that the 2014 was the year of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. Wherever millennials saw a problem, they tackled it by turning and asking communities to fund their solutions.
Take “One Fast Cat” as an example; it’s a company which makes exercise wheels similar to hamster wheels but for Bengal cats. For over five years low quality cat wheels were being sold at high prices with cheapest being $500 dollars. In 2014, California resident Sean Farley managed to design his own wheel using Solid Works software and a 3D printer. Thinking he could help others with his solution, he took his prototype to Kickstarter and raised more than $320,000 in initial funding and thus the “One Fast Cat” was born. Today, they have more orders coming in than they can fulfill and are taking reservation orders with shipping dates of more than two months in the future.
Stories like “One Fast Cat” will become the new norm in our society and 2015 will bring a new batch of fresh millionaires.
Internet of Things
A well-known statement by Mark Weiser published in Scientific American (1991) was “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” Today Mark’s quote is true in every aspect of technology we look at. Facebook used to be a personal profile website meant for students to share pictures. Today, we use Facebook for many more purposes that just a mere profile. In 2011, it was used for revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia; something never been done before that.
IoT (Internet of things) will follow the same suit as Facebook. It will creep up slowly such that living without intelligent devices will be considered weird. Although we will not see a full scale implementation in 2015, it will however appear in larger frequency throughout the year.
At the moment notable advancements in IoT include Fuel Band by Nike, FitBit Bands, Nest’s Thermostat, intelligent fridge and the majority of smart watches. IBM’s “smart planet,” Samsung’s “smart things” and Google’s acquisition of Nest indicates that big businesses are paying attention. So the question is not if Internet of Things will become reality but “when” will they integrate themselves into the fabric of everyday life.
It is said that data engineers will be high in demand but short in supply in the coming years. We will see technology going in the background and the “value of technology” taking center stage. This is because the technology simply collects the data while the analytics conducted on that data provides the actual value. In 2015, the majority of the CIOs will try to acquire talent which will help them get the most value and insights out of their technologies.
The healthcare industry will utilize data analytics as part of their “Population Health” initiative. Physicians will be enabled to see a 360 degree view of their patients and receive suggestions from their analytical engines. Insurance companies will be able to provide better and appropriate care to their consumers. IT departments will mine healthcare data to help shift focus from treatment based models to value 7 prevention based care models.
Data Security Products
Given the increasing number of data breaches, security applications will be most prominent in 2015. Two prominent applications coming out this year are Illumio and SkyHigh Networks. Illumio is a visual security platform which operates with no dependencies on the infrastructure while SkyHigh is a security platform meant for clouds and gives a very fine level of control to system admins.
For the past couple of years everyone have been collecting vast sums of data through various channels. This year the focus will shift from collection to utilization (analytics). Companies ahead of the curve will be able to successfully extract value from their data and strategize where they want to go. Aside from analytics, other prominent needs will be larger storage, data security and cloud. In a nutshell, it will not be about what technology one is implementing but what value one is trying to get out of it.