The emerging world of information technology is one in which data is king, social platforms evolve as a new source of business intelligence, and cloud computing finally delivers on IT’s role as a driver of business growth, according to a new report from Accenture (NYSE: ACN).
The Accenture Technology Vision 2011 identifies eight emerging trends that challenge long-held assumptions about IT and are poised to reshape the business landscape. The report also offers “action steps” that high performing businesses and governments can take to prepare for the new world of computing.
“We took a look around the corner and saw a world of IT that barely resembles what enterprise computing looks like today,” said Gavin Michael, managing director of R&D and alliances, Accenture, who supervised the project. “The role of technology changing; it is no longer in a support role. Instead, it is front and center driving business performance and enriching people’s lives like never before.”
One of the most significant trends identified in the report finds that the age of “viewing everything through an application lens is coming to an end.” Instead, platform architectures will be selected primarily to cope with soaring volumes of data and the complexity of data management, not for their ability to support applications.
The tried and true relational database will not go away, but it will soon start to make way for other types of databases – streaming databases, for instance – that mark a significant departure from what IT departments and business users have relied on for decades.
“IT and business leaders will begin to view application services as utilities that can be procured off the shelf,” said Michael. “The roles of application and data will be reversed, with data becoming the platform that supports application services. Business leaders, as such, will be encouraged to reframe their IT orientation around the idea of data platforms.”
The vision also predicts the evolution of social media into social platforms. This means company web sites may longer be the first port of call for customers. This has the potential to disrupt the way companies conduct business, posing new challenges – and opportunities – for IT.
For example, “social identities” – based on the rich history of information that individuals leave in social networks – will become much more valuable to businesses than the traditional and isolated information they get when an individual registers on their corporate website.
Accenture also sees a new conversation emerging around cloud computing, which will become so pervasive that the term itself becomes superfluous. According to the report, hybrid clouds – software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) in combination with internal applications – will “cement IT’s role as a driver of business growth.”
The focus will shift from simple infrastructure solutions to developing cloud strategies that deliver increased functionality and flexibility using a mix of public and private cloud-based application and platform services. While many challenges remain, cloud is nonetheless poised to change the face of enterprise computing.
The other trends identified in the report are:
“The report is rich with detail as it identifies trends and offers action steps that we believe will have the greatest impact on business performance in the future,” said Michael. “It should be a must-read for business, IT, and government leaders.”
About the Methodology
Accenture Technology Labs has published its annual technology vision report for the past six years. For the 2011 report, Accenture researchers and scientists developed hypotheses about information technology developments that will have a significant impact on Accenture’s clients in the next five years. A wide range of sources were tapped for the report, including the flow of venture capital funding, trends highlighted by IT analysts, key themes at industry conferences, and academic literature. Accenture’s original research into the characteristics of high-performing IT departments was also used.