Eight IT Predictions for 2011 and Beyond

Organizations will need to show a link between IT investments and business results.

February 14, 2011

Continued cost pressures, limited growth opportunities, and low risk tolerance mean the information technology (IT) function will face increased levels of scrutiny by internal and external stakeholders. This will require IT spending to become more tightly coupled with business results.

So says “Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users 2011 and Beyond: IT’s Growing Transparency” from Gartner, an IT research and advisory company based in Stamford, Conn.

“Gartner’s top predictions showcase the trends and disruptive events that will reshape the nature of business for the next year and beyond,” says Brian Gammage, vice president and Gartner fellow. “Selected from across our research areas as the most compelling and critical predictions, the developments and topics they address this year focus on changes in the roles that technologies and IT organizations play in the lives of workers, the performance of businesses, and the wider world.”

Top predictions for 2011 include:

1. By 2015, 10% of your online ‘friends’ will be nonhuman

Social media strategy involves several steps: establishing a presence, listening to the conversation, articulating a message, and, ultimately, interacting in a two-way, fully engaged manner.

Thus far, many organizations 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 systematize 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 personalized to each individual.

2. 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, physical plant, or mobile communications.

Such a multimodal attack can have lasting effects beyond a temporary disruption, in the same manner that the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. had repercussions that have lasted for nearly a decade.

Next: IT results affect CIO compensation

3. By 2015, new revenue generated each year by IT will affect CIO compensation

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 realizing 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 chief information officers’ annual compensation.

4. By 2015, information-smart businesses will increase recognized IT spending per head by 60%

IT-enabled enterprises that successfully navigated the recent recession and return to growth will benefit from many internal and external dynamics.

Consolidation, optimization, and cost transparency programs have made decentralized IT investments more visible, increasing “recognized” 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 60% increase in the metric for “IT spending per enterprise employee” when compared against the metrics of peer organizations and internal trending metrics.

5. By 2015, tools and automation will eliminate 25% of labor 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 industrialized 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 industrialized services with the potential to transform the industry from a high-touch custom environment to one characterized by automated delivery of IT services.

Next: Here comes the cloud

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

The move by non-IT organizations to provide non-IT capabilities via cloud computing will further expand the role of IT decision making outside the IT organization.

This represents yet another opportunity for IT organizations to redefine their value proposition as service enablers—with either consumption or provision of cloud-based services.

As non-IT players externalize core competencies via the cloud, they will be interjecting themselves into value chain systems and competing directly with IT organizations that have traditionally served in this capacity.

7. By 2014, 90% of organizations will support corporate applications on personal devices

The trend toward supporting corporate applications on employee-owned notebooks and smartphones is already underway in many organizations and will become commonplace within four years.

The main driver for adoption of mobile devices will be employees—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 this consumerization trend, in which the attention of users and IT organizations shifts from devices, infrastructure, and applications to information and interaction with peers. This change in view will herald the start of the postconsumerization era.

8. By 2013, 80% 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 communications rather than content creation, with fewer features and less processing power than traditional PCs and notebooks.

Support requirements for media tablets will vary across and within enterprises depending on use scenarios.

At a minimum, in cases where employees bring 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.

Visit Gartner’s website for more information.