Forces are colliding to make 2016 an interesting year for those trying to manage information with technology that touches end users. The traditional IT role, as we know it, is undergoing disruption. As I survey the macro trends impacting Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and cloud, I am ready to bet that radical change will be the IT norm next year and in the foreseeable future. Based on my years in enterprise IT and my on-going customer interactions, I thought I’d share my own thoughts about the coming year ahead and the sea of change that will be fast upon us, at least the way I see it.
My first prediction?
Power to the People
We are experiencing a major shift in who has control over application choice, and that control will readily land with end users, placing the heaviest pressure yet on internal IT departments. We are seeing a rapid wave of change that won’t stop anytime soon, arming end users with even more choices in tools they can procure—and procure them they will.
With the advent of IoT and exponential growth of practically everything internet-related, end users are becoming more and more empowered. They curate their own content, self-publish in multiple content formats including unstructured data (e.g. images and videos), and consume from their device of choice (or multiple devices simultaneously).
Shadow IT already has savvy end users self-selecting the IT tools and apps they want, even in the workplace. Further abandonment of sanctioned in-house tools will leave IT seriously rethinking how to change their ways and live up to the new user expectations.
In the ECM space, success will be measured by how many end users are productive and empowered, not by “go-live” milestones. The need for content management will continue to soar, just like content volume itself and the number of individuals creating it.
Software in Slivers
This leads to my second prediction – a shift in how software is designed, both to speed up functionality to these empowered end users, and to provide more technical flexibility. Business requirements from technology will continue to ebb and tide as companies keep up with the rapidly changing dynamics and stay one step ahead. Agility and flexibility will be pushed ahead of other requirements.
These business demands will force IT to rethink their standards on application development and how they leverage software to deliver specific solutions for groups of users. A “Lego” approach will become that standard, allowing for even more rapid development on top of existing software development frameworks currently in place. The list of approaches is also growing — agile, waterfall, iterative, scrum, etc.. Slivers of software functionality, widget-like, coupled with discrete services will be snapped together to deliver specific solutions for groups of users.
These purpose-built blocks in the ECM world will deliver individual capabilities, such as “capture” or “esignatures”. Snapped together, these blocks will quickly deliver a full, rich solution like claims processing, for example. Less and less will vendors design monolithic code sets packed with comprehensive functionality, but instead offer a plethora of blocks that IT organizations can pick and choose from, resulting in a well-tailored solution.
The open source movement originally ushered in the building block model for software development. Moving forward, more of the industry will turn to the speed and nimbleness that these use case-driven development models can offer. It won’t be overnight – there is too much investment in existing IT infrastructure. But just as the IT role will look vastly different in the future, so too will the software IT needs to service end users.
Hybrid Cloud Front and Center
What will happen quickly and take off is the shift to cloud, and more specifically, hybrid cloud in the ECM space. That’s my third and last prediction (at least for this blog!).
IDC already predicts that half of IT spend will go to cloud infrastructure and cloud-based solutions in just a few years. The appeal of hybrid will fill the mix and match approach many businesses need. For example, highly regulated industries may place certain functionality in a private cloud on premise, while other functionalities sourced from a public cloud, and still, other functionalities may continue to reside in traditional on premise environments.
In my experience, every customer has a unique situation, set of users, and specific use case. There is no right or wrong cloud answer — they need cloud options to suit their IT requirements placed on them by quick changing business demands. Hybrid cloud will deliver the flexibility to create environments that fit and meet their needs. Companies will master their cloud formulas and hybrid cloud will become front and center.
It’s obvious the IT world has started to change dramatically. More upheaval is still yet to come, but those who foresee the shift will move quickly to develop new skills and innovate, to deliver to new demands.
What do you think? What are your predictions? Drop a line below in the comments box to continue this discussion.