This year at Splunk Live, CTOvision editor and Crucial Point CTO Bob Gourley provided a keynote on predicting the future of information technology, outlining some of his methods and what we can learn from each. By predicting where IT is going and identifying disruptive technology and trend, we can not only avoid disruption but harness it to meet new challenges and mission goals.
The most basic way to predict the future is to extrapolate linearly. This means taking today’s trends, technologies, and rates of change and holding them constant over the years. The problem with this method is that it does not account for surprises. One example is the predictions from the middle of the 20th century that a handful of computers will satisfy global demand. Looking at the decisions the community is making provides a more accurate picture. The investments of venture capital firms and best practices among innovative corporations and agencies can provide a view of where technology is headed illustrating R&D, products, and strategies get buzz and funding.
Another method is looking at megatrends in the industry, which is more reliable than the last two but the lessons learned can be too general. Currently, the megatrends in information technology include cloud computing, Big Data, and the rapid acceleration of technology. The consumerization of IT contributes to these trends by increasing the data being generated exponentially while also raising user expectations. Despite the increasing diversity of devices, we are also seeing a convergence of platforms, standards, and APIs to enable mass collaboration. Another result of this growing amount of data is that it has outpaced human ability to analyze it, requiring novel solutions in fields from market analysis to cybersecurity. Splunk is a good example of such a solution because by capturing and indexing machine data across platforms and devices to answer security, reliability, and business intelligence questions when there is too much information for analysts to take in on their own.
What do all of these trends tell us? First, brace yourself for continued growth in computational power. This means taking a hard look at your workflow and policies. Dealing with massive data and complexity will likely require greater automation and efficiency. But further, to really thrive in the future IT climate, you have to look at Big Data as both a challenge and opportunity to be prepared not simply to avoid disruption but to take advantage of it.
IBM actually has a pretty good method for future forecasting. http://domino.research.ibm.com/odis/odis.nsf/pages/focus.03.html