Gartner’s Aggressive Predictions May Be Overly Conservative

Rob Enderle
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Gartner issued a series of interesting predictions this week. Upon looking at them, you might think they are overly aggressive. But over the last decade, technology decisions have moved back to being driven by line executives rather than IT executives. Gartner bases its predictions historically on conversations with IT.

 IT is a service organization and is generally brought in on a change after line has decided to make it. This means that in cases where technology is changing even more rapidly, IT can be six to 18 months out from when they believe a change is needed. This has become particularly pronounced when it comes to cloud services because, increasingly, line has chosen to move on cloud services and, at least initially, has bypassed IT.

The point of this is to suggest that you check with your line organizations on their thinking in regard to these tech trends and make sure your organization is prepared to assist in the related rollouts. Otherwise, you may find they are happening without you.


Windows 10 Mass Migration

We’ve seen a couple of bad OS releases from Microsoft. Add to this aging hardware that desperately needs to be replaced, thanks to a large stall on Windows XP. Companies now have to move because XP has become excessively slow and extremely unreliable and unsecure. The result is one of the biggest mass migrations to a new desktop OS—Windows 10--in the history of the PC industry. The problem is that when something like this happens, service organizations that typically assist with OS migrations get pounded, particularly toward the end of the cycle when the pain is so pronounced that users start doing it themselves en masse.

Ideally, you want to be slightly ahead of this curve. That means that Windows 10 deployments should largely be complete no later than mid-2017, with the sweet spot likely in the second half of 2016, or after many of the initial trials have completed and experienced deployment teams are fully prepared to make the jump.

Touchscreens on Everything

The touchscreen prediction is kind of strange, given that it is focused on a PC component and not a full solution. However, it represents not only a problem for IT, because their laptop spec may already be out of date, but also one for Apple, which started this trend and now seems to be missing out on it.

A couple of things affect the preponderance of touchscreens: the move to mobile applications and the fact that websites are increasingly more efficient with touch. The result is that users are more frequently asking for touchscreens. Gartner’s prediction that one-third of all notebooks will ship with touch assumes that IT will be driving this change. In reality, it is driven by users and the Windows 10 migration. It may be time to ping users and, if appropriate, update the laptop specification to touch. If not, you may face premature obsolescence of the laptops you currently have in plan.

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Remote Application Access

Gartner’s prediction that applications are moving to the cloud is accurate but extremely conservative given the success of services like Amazon Web Services and Office 365 for delivering them from the cloud today. The prediction suggests the wave will be most pronounced in 2019 and that is likely two years out from when it will actually occur. This shows the biggest gap between what line management is doing and how much of this activity is bypassing IT right now.

Here’s one of the most frightening stories I heard all year in regard to IT being bypassed: An organization that was an Oracle shop--and had contracts in place to ensure that it remained an all-Oracle shop--found that sales had migrated to Salesforce.com, bypassing IT entirely. IT only became aware of this when a Salesforce sales rep asked why they didn’t have a volume license for the service. Not only had sales migrated itself to Salesforce, it had done it almost individually, sales group by sales group.

Updated Monitors

This is another strange prediction because monitors are typically part of a desktop upgrade cycle, yet there are no comparable desktop PC recommendations. The prediction is that IT will be spending more on monitors than PCs in 2018. But given their prediction about the move to touch laptops, this would be highly contradictory. Also, the cost of high-resolution screens continues to drop sharply, suggesting that by the predicted 2018 buying cycle, the differential won’t be as high as the report implies.

It is interesting to note that Gartner does not predict a move to touchscreen PC monitors given their laptop prediction because the same drivers are in place. But this is not an oversight, since touchscreen monitors haven’t sold well at all to date, which suggests that, regardless of the demand for touch in general, the right monitor configuration hasn’t been developed. Of all of the predictions, you can likely put this one aside because there are simply too many inherent conflicts to determine what monitor configuration will be preferred in 2018.

It could, for instance, easily be a switch from LED to OLED technology, or a switch to curved, as opposed to flat, screens in that time frame. So, while I agree that there will be a rather massive monitor change-out in the 2018 to 2020 time frame, it is as yet unclear what the preferred technology will be in 2018. There is no real need to take a guess given you likely won’t budget for this change until at least 2017 and we can revisit this then.

Wrapping Up: Stay on Top of Big Changes

Without a doubt, a massive change in desktop technology is coming, including increased moves toward mobile; technology like Microsoft Continuum, which gives us phones that can act as PCs; and MU-MIMO, which gives us high-bandwidth connections. The PCs of today may become the smartphones of tomorrow (which could mean that these forecast changes will likely be woefully out of date by the end of next year). The only thing certain is that by 2020, things will be massively different. If you don’t stay on top of it all, you may find things outside of your control. Now there is something to noodle on this week.

Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm.  With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+



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