Roel Castelein recently took a look at Gartner’s top 10 trends for 2013 and reached a disconcerting conclusion: Most point to a pattern of fragmentation of information.
The trend list is the usual prediction fodder that basically reflects back what we’ve already seen in this year. So, it’s about mobile devices, hybrid IT, cloud computing, Big Data, the Internet of Things and so on. Your eyes probably glaze over just thinking about it, but such is the nature of prediction lists.
Castelein works for EMC in the GTM Strategy for EMEA, but the column appears on IDG’s Connect site. He decided to take a step back and analyze the trends ala a Mentat from the “Dune” science fiction series. (There’s a link in his article so you can look it up; I had to, even though I read over half the full series, like, 30 years ago).
The point is, he wanted to strip away all the baggage, good and bad, that we bring to these sorts of trend predictions and look at it with fresh eyes. And what he saw is we’re moving to an incredibly fragmented situation:
“The top 10 trends are new or innovative technologies. But what do they mean for ‘Information’? The pattern that occurs most in the top 10 trends is ‘fragmentation’ — fragmentation of information and thereby fragmentation of organizations, processes and people.”
At the same time, we’re speeding up the creation of data, with personal clouds and the Internet of Things (coming soon, probably to a basement near you) — all of which, he says, will result in an “explosive creation of data.”
It sounds like a train wreck of silos to me, but Castelein, still with his Mentat hat on, sees both hazards and potential:
“I believe it makes everything more volatile and temporary, which is then more challenging to manage. But at the same time it will be easier to kick start new initiatives, and IT will present more possibilities than ever before to do new, imaginative things. IT will be easier to use, to mix up and match.”
Mix and match IT? That actually sounds pretty cool. And he rightly predicts IT will have more tools than ever, which, again, we’ve already seen happen thanks to the cloud and SaaS. Add it up and you’ll also have less “top-down control,” he notes.
But a lack of top-down control can lead to major problems, as business units are learning to their chagrin now that they’re dealing with data problems caused by SaaS silos and a lack of integration.
I think he’s spot on with the Mentat analysis about future fragmentation and data’s growth is, at this point, a no-brainer for everyone. But I can’t help but feel he’s skimping on the whole integration question, especially when he writes that you’ll be able to “just download a data mart from the Enterprise app store with your smart phone, hook it up to a measurement device and analyze any object or process real time, store the results in a personal cloud and share it with peers all over the world.”
There’s a lot of integration work lurking in the phrases “hook it up” and “share it with peers.”