Tech trends 2015: tablet workers and social bots for friends

1 Dec 2010

By 2015, some 80pc of corporate workers will carry tablet computers, a G20 nation will be hit by major online sabotage and 10pc of your online social media friends will be non-human, Gartner has predicted.

Analysts said that the predictions highlight the significant changes in the roles played by technology and IT organisations in business, the global economy and the lives of individual users.

More than 100 of the strongest Gartner predictions across all research areas were submitted for consideration this year. This year’s selection process included evaluating several criteria that define a top prediction.

“Gartner’s top predictions showcase the trends and disruptive events that will reshape the nature of business for the next year and beyond,” said Brian Gammage, vice-president and Gartner fellow.

This year’s top predictions highlight an increasingly visible linkage between technology decisions and outcomes, both economic and societal.

The top predictions include:

By 2015, a G20 nation’s critical infrastructure will be disrupted and damaged by online sabotage

Online attacks can be multimodal, in the sense of targeting multiple systems for maximum impact, such as the financial system (the stock exchange), physical plant (the control systems of a chemical, nuclear or electric plant), or mobile communications (mobile-phone message routers). Such a multimodal attack can have lasting effects beyond a temporary disruption, in the same manner that the 9/11 attacks on the US had repercussions that have lasted for nearly a decade. If a national stock market was rendered unavailable for several weeks, there would be lasting effects even if there was no change in government, although it is also possible that such disruptive actions could eventually result in a change in leadership.

By 2015, new revenue generated each year by IT will determine the annual compensation of most new Global 2000 CIOs

Four initiatives — context-aware computing, IT’s direct involvement in enterprise innovation development efforts, pattern-based strategies and harnessing the power of social networks — can potentially directly increase enterprise revenue. Executive and board-level expectations for realising revenue from those and other IT initiatives will become so common that, in 2015, the amount of new revenue generated from IT initiatives will become the primary factor determining the incentive portion of new Global 2000 CIOs’ annual compensation.

By 2015, information-smart businesses will increase recognised IT spending per head by 60pc

Those IT-enabled enterprises that successfully navigated the recent recession and return to growth will benefit from many internal and external dynamics. Consolidation, optimisation and cost transparency programs have made decentralised IT investments more visible, increasing “recognised” IT spending. This, combined with staff reduction and freezes, will reward the leading companies within each industry segment with an IT productivity windfall that culminates in at least a 60pc increase in the metric for “IT spending per enterprise employee” when compared against the metrics of peer organisations and internal trending metrics.

By 2015, tools and automation will eliminate 25pc of labour hours associated with IT services

As the IT services industry matures, it will increasingly mirror other industries, such as manufacturing, in transforming from a craftsmanship to a more industrialised model. Cloud computing will hasten the use of tools and automation in IT services as the new paradigm brings with it self-service, automated provisioning and metering, etc, to deliver industrialised services with the potential to transform the industry from a high-touch custom environment to one characterised by automated delivery of IT services. Productivity levels for service providers will increase, leading to reductions in their costs of delivery.

By 2015, 20pc of non-IT Global 500 companies will be cloud service providers

The move by non-IT organisations to provide non-IT capabilities via cloud computing will further expand the role of IT decision making outside the IT organisation. This represents yet another opportunity for IT organisations to redefine their value proposition as service enablers — with either consumption or provision of cloud-based services. As non-IT players externalise core competencies via the cloud, they will be interjecting themselves into value chain systems and competing directly with IT organisations that have traditionally served in this capacity.

By 2014, 90pc of organisations will support corporate applications on personal devices

The trend toward supporting corporate applications on employee-owned notebooks and smartphones is already under way in many organisations and will become commonplace within four years. The main driver for adoption of mobile devices will be employees — ie, individuals who prefer to use private consumer smartphones or notebooks for business, rather than using old-style limited enterprise devices. IT is set to enter the next phase of the consumerisation trend, in which the attention of users and IT organisations shifts from devices, infrastructure and applications to information and interaction with peers. This change in view will herald the start of the post-consumerisation era.

By 2013, 80pc of businesses will support a workforce using tablets

The Apple iPad is the first of what promises to be a huge wave of media tablets focused largely on content consumption, and to some extent communications, rather than content creation, with fewer features and less processing power than traditional PCs and notebooks or pen-centric tablet PCs. Support requirements for media tablets will vary across and within enterprises depending on usage scenario. At minimum, in cases where employees are bringing their own devices for convenience, enterprises will have to offer appliance-level support with a limited level of network connectivity (which will likely include access to enterprise mail and calendaring) and help desk support for connectivity issues.

By 2015, 10pc of your online “friends” will be nonhuman

Social media strategy involves several steps: establishing a presence, listening to the conversation, speaking (articulating a message), and, ultimately, interacting in a two-way, fully engaged manner. Thus far, many organisations have established a presence, and are mostly projecting messages through Twitter feeds and Facebook updates that are often only an incremental step up from RSS feeds. By 2015, efforts to systematise and automate social engagement will result in the rise of social bots — automated software agents that can handle, to varying degrees, interaction with communities of users in a manner personalised to each individual.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years