An Overview by
2014 was a great year for technology, marked by continued innovation from the culmination of trends long underway to new announcements in areas of incredible potential.
A month or so into 2015, we look forward to another exciting year of continuing technological innovation. During Waterstone’s annual strategic review in Chicago earlier this month, the conversation kept coming back to seven trends that—beyond all the excitement and hype—will have material impacts for our clients and partners. These are the areas we will be watching closely over 2015.
1. The Rise of the Renters Market
Cloud has grown up, and a marketplace defined by “renting” capacity on an on-demand basis is increasingly the norm. In 2015, companies will have to justify not why they are going to the cloud but why not. Enterprise IT will need to become comfortable operating in a multi-cloud environment. Integration across cloud applications, user control, data security, and latency will be at the forefront of their minds. Consequently, we expect technology providers to push aggressively ahead with their cloud portfolios, but in doing so, they should be cognizant of looming user concerns around integration and security. Also, traditional providers will need to continue to redefine their processes, organization models, and metrics to operate effectively in the cloud.
2. Emergence of the Intelligent Enterprise
Most large companies are making investments in big data technologies if they haven’t already, but over this year, CEOs will start to ask: “How much did we spend on big data? What did we get for it? How do we use the insight to differentiate? What changes do we need to make to our decision making and operating processes to sense and respond better?” Companies that are able to capitalize on these insights, embed them into their decision making, and operate as an intelligent enterprise will separate themselves from the competition. Consequently, this creates an opportunity for technology providers to extend their portfolio of offerings by incorporating best practices, embedding analytics, and enabling contextual and real-time decision making within targeted workflows.
3. Continued Insecurity
Even before the Anthem data breach—which now appears to have compromised the information of over 80 million people—the digital security failures of last year weighed heavily on the opening of 2015. It is clear that our current systems are outmatched, and there is growing awareness that data breaches are inevitable. The decades-long effort to centralize critical data as a means to protect it is failing. During 2015, we expect to see new experiments with architectures that scatter and encrypt important data, making it much harder to steal or destroy. The resulting “mesh” model will create architectural and operational challenges of its own. In the meantime, expect more spectacular IT security breaches in 2015.
4. Payments Shake-up
It has been said for many years that “this is the year mobile payments take off,” and with the launch of ApplePay and Samsung’s acquisition of LoopPay, 2015 looks to be no different. We, however, suspect that 2015 will be the year that the mobile payments industry starts to work out which direction it is going to take. Despite the ease of use and improved security offered by various digital wallets, the field remains crowded with different standards. Perhaps most significantly, retailers themselves have moved aggressively to push MCX, a home-grown solution with a clunky experience but no swipe fees. Overall, we see about five potentially viable products fighting for the mobile payments space, but which one will ultimately prevail is unclear.
5. Shared Economy for the Enterprise
The “Uberfication” of business models has found a firm foothold in the consumer space. We have just started to scratch the surface, however, on similar business models in B2B. While renting out excess production capacity is an established industrial practice, we are only beginning to see B2B outsourcing of spare capacity and non-critical business functions in an open market for on-demand needs. During 2015, we expect to see early experimentation with informal networks and markets that cross industries, business model maturities, and risk profiles in new ways.
6. Beyond Mobile
Companies are learning how to connect with their assets, workforces, and customers—all of which have become connected and always online. They are just beginning to explore opportunities enabled by this widely connected ecosystem. In 2015, we expect to see increased use cases being enabled in the industrial world, anchored by tangible ROIs and driven by enhanced asset performance and better collaboration. On the consumer front, be prepared to be inundated by a plethora of wearables. Between having a mobile device and sporting a wearable, the majority of the developed world population will be “always on.” Business model innovation will continue furiously as companies embrace the opportunity to engage with an always on and always connected society.
7. Year of the Customer Success Officer
As technology revenues increasingly shift to subscription, traditional selling models will continue to be upended. The focus on upfront account acquisition will have to be balanced with post-sale customer engagement to ensure customers are using the product and getting the value they expected. The role of the Chief Customer Officer accountable for the end-to-end customer experience and success is increasingly gaining traction. Expect to see more focus and investment around the topic of Customer Success in 2015.
We face another exciting year, one marked by continued innovation and change. Old business models and traditional relationships come under even greater pressure. But we also see new opportunities for growth across the tech industry and are working with clients and partners to take advantage of the swiftly changing landscape.
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