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ZapThink on Enterprise IT Trends in The Next Decade

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Zapthink 2020 was announced recently as Zapthink’s conceptual framework to explain the trends and crisis that will shape Enterprise IT over the next decade. Jason Bloomberg (Managing Partner, Zapthink LLC) announced the explained the birth of Zapthink 2020 to InfoQ:

The inspiration for ZapThink 2020 was the fact that there are many trends impacting enterprise IT today, but in general people consider them in isolation. There's a lot of talk about SOA, or Cloud, or mobile technologies, or outsourcing, or what have you, but nobody had worked through how all of these trends interrelate. So the ZapThink 2020 vision is the story about all the forces of transformation affecting enterprise IT this decade, and how they all intertwine.

In the opening post of this series, Jason Bloomberg initiated the discussion by summarizing the five broad ideas shaping IT which he calls “supertrends”. Jason admits that most of these trends are continuing trends from the previous decade but the crisis points looming in the near future clearly affect the way these trends will play out in the next decade. He also believes that in preparation of the crisis points and any other turning points in the next decade it is vital to understand the context within which they will occur i.e. the broader supertrends.

The five supertrends are:

  • Location independence:  The term is self explanatory and focuses on the concept of abstracting out the core idea from its physical connotations within the realm of IT, irrespective of whether it is people, processes or tools.
  • Global Cubicle: Ubiquitous computing, social media and location independence will make the possibility of a global cubicle a reality which brings people together and enables them to interact in a myriad ways.
  • Democratization of technology: New forms of pricing models especially subscription-based SaaS offerings will encourage a culture of bottom-up software acquisition which is a threat to the traditional red taped software acquisition process.
  • Deep interoperability: Buying behavior will shape the way vendors will approach seamless interoperability with other products in the IT ecosystem.
  • Complex Systems Engineering: The idea of approaching systems engineering in an ever-increasing agile fashion by moving from integration to governance and from static architectures to continually changing state of architectures which is termed Continuous Business Transformation.

The location independence and global cubicle supertrends set the platform for enterprises that are not in the IT business to outsource their IT off-premises leading to the collapse of enterprise IT.  IPv4 exhaustion has been a concern since the 1980s but the estimated date has now converged to a timeframe between 2011 and 2012.  The unifying forces of globalization are juxtaposed by the disruptive forces of terrorism which extends to the cyber medium. Stuxnet being the most recent and undoubtedly most sophisticated worm that probably originated from a covert organization which affected SCADA systems proves the point that cyberwar has been elevated to the next level.

He talks about seven game-changing crisis points in a follow up blog post which predicts the collapse of enterprise IT, IPv4 exhaustion, fall of EA frameworks, cyberwar, arrival of generation Y, data explosion and enterprise application crash.

Jason responded to how the arrival of generation Y affects the current workforce:

One of the trends in the ZapThink 2020 vision is how young people entering the job market will affect IT organizations with their skills and perspectives. They will be comfortable with the multitasking/social media rich/work anywhere, any time/mobile-centric context that today's high school and college kids have -- since of course, it's those same kids who will be entering the workforce this decade. It's those of us in the older generation who have to make adjustments.

Within the EA world, there have been opposing views on the relevance of EA frameworks in the current agile enterprise. Jason explained his reasoning behind the fall of EA frameworks:

Traditional EA starts with the "as-is" architecture and formulates a "to-be" architecture, as though it were possible to create a fixed ideal "to-be" state, and once we got to this nirvana architecture, we'd be done. But the reality is, there is no "to-be" state. Instead, there's continuous business transformation. We need to move from the current inflexible state to a future "state" of business agility, but I put "state" in quotation marks because the whole point to being agile is that you expect change to be constant. This move toward business agility requires a complete rethink of architecture and engineering.

Jason’s advice for enterprise software vendors to avoid the enterprise application crash:

The point to Deep Interoperability is that at some point in the maturation of the marketplace, customers stop buying software that isn't fully interoperable. Today vendors can still get away with inadequate interoperability because customers put up with it. Of course, the vendors love imperfect interoperability because it locks customers into their proprietary offerings. Once customers get wise and realize they can control the vendors with their buying behavior, the only vendors who will survive are the ones that are truly serious about interoperability.

Zapthink will soon publish a poster depicting the concepts within Zapthink 2020 to help organizations understand the context for change within their IT organizations for the next decade.

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