Did 2015 unfold as Forrester Research predicted?

It’s common practice for research firms to make predictions as a way to kick off the year. Last January, Forrester Research analysts looked into their crystal balls to forecast what might transpire over the course of 2015.

In fact, Forrester analysts collectively made 45 predictions (its predictions for 2016 can be found here), covering a wide variety of sectors and technologies. Rather than looking at all of them, here’s some thoughts on five predictions in what have always been high profile areas — and whether or not they were borne out over the past year.

How The CMO And CIO Will Determine The Future Of Business In 2015

Analyst Cliff Condon stated that CMOs have historically focused narrowly on marketing and promotion, but that’s not enough in the age of the customer. He said the CMO of 2015 must take charge of customer-centric innovation, starting with mobile, and that companies where the CIO and CMO work as a team will gain market share.

The idea of IT no longer being siloed from the rest of the organization is not new, even if those silos are still hard to break down; over the past year there’s been a number of examples where specific lines of business have been making IT purchasing decisions, albeit in collaboration with IT, to address specific requirements of the organizations or customers. If anything, the whole idea of “marketing vs. IT” has been waning for a while.

Condon’s predictions should really be restated in that it’s not that the CMO and CIO will determine the future of business in 2015, but rather the customers who determine the course of the enterprise; the CMO and CIO will have to work together in response if the organization is going to successful in keeping these customers happy online and in the real world.

In fact, the CMO/CIO collaboration speaks to the growth of DevOps in that developers are now becoming an integral part of IT operations to create a more agile and responsive organization, while the mundane yet critical area of application performance management must learn lessons from the smartphone industry.

Make This A Key Transformation Year

Eveline Oehrlich advised that infrastructure and operations organizations must make 2015 a transformation year by prioritizing business technology agenda, citing a Forrester report, “Predictions 2015: Infrastructure & Operations Prioritizes Pursuing The BT Agenda.”

Saying that organizations should look to a new year as one that is transformative is probably the safest bet you can make, especially given rapid evolution of technologies and how they are deployed — cloud computing and software-defined networking come to mind — but while the best might be safe, it’s fair to say that Canadian organizations have been transforming from traditional ways of doing business in large part because vendors have been prompting them as they change how the sell their products and services.

In the past year, Microsoft has opened its cloud while keeping it secure for hybrid enterprises so they can bring whatever they have, including Linux. Oracle, too, is making sure its cloud supports the various open source technologies enterprises are adopting.

Meanwhile, organizations are willing to give up some measure of control over some infrastructure if it means they can be more agile and control costs. TD Bank recently outlined how it has changed its priorities around technology with three key areas of focus: rationalization, standardization, and modernization. CIO Jeff Henderson said this means Canada’s second largest bank is looking at the entire technology stack at the bank and understanding where it can reduce its footprint.

If 2015 was to be a key year for transformation as Forrester forecast, there is research to support that organizations, including Canadian enterprises, are making progress. A recent study by IDG Research Services, found that the agility provided by hybrid cloud, combined with reduced IT costs, enables investment in digital transformation, and that Canada is doing well and even above average.

Cloud Technologies Will Power The Most Successful Businesses In 2015

Forrester’s Dave Bartoletti saw 2014 as the year cloud entered the formal IT portfolio, and technology managers stopped treating cloud as competition, while 2015 was the year cloud technologies would mature into the driving force powering the most successful companies.

As already mentioned, an IDG report found that hybrid cloud is essential to digital business and that Canada is competitive on that front. One trend that is definitely supporting digital transformation for Canadian IT organizations is more choice for cloud computing here at home, addressing the data residency concerns of many companies, including the public sector, as Microsoft, Oracle and others have open data centre to specially serve the needs of Canadian customers and deliver enterprise applications via the cloud.

The Digital Store Platform Will Support The Retail Store Of The Future

With eBooks sales slowing and print book sales resurging, it’s not surprising that e-commerce has not killed bricks and mortar retailing. Forrester predicted in 2015 that retail stores that drive convenience, service, and relevant personalized experiences through the use of digital store technology will succeed.

The fact that Amazon recently opened a physical store suggests that the future of retailing combines a traditional storefront with an online presence. Analyst Adam Silverman observed that customers show an affinity for digital store technology and that 66 per cent of luxury apparel customers are more likely to shop with a digitally-enabled associate.

This new style of retail hasn’t really shown up much in Canadian stores, but technology vendors are helping retailers improve the customer experience, such as VMware, which is bringing retailers’ existing applications and product information to any device using VMware Workspace so that staff are better armed about store inventory and product features. Meanwhile, Cisco’s Internet of Things (IoT) technology is being used to merge the digital and physical worlds of retail by creating an interactive “living laboratory” for customers at a London, England-based based men’s lifestyle and retail store.

Internet Of Things Software Platforms Will Become The Rage In 2015

Analyst firms as well vendors keep trotting out numbers about the billions of connected devices coming our way, but was IoT just hype this past year? Forrester analyst Frank Gillett predicted IoT customer success will displace “billions of devices” hype, and we did in fact start to see some specific use cases and deployments, and not just a deluge of consumer devices such as fitness trackers, as enterprises begin to better ingest data and make use of it.

Telus Corp. recently partnered with Fleet Complete and Intact Insurance to develop a fleet-management insurance offering for the Canadian market so that existing Fleet Tracker customers could be eligible for a service that provides fleet owners with tools that not only manage commercial vehicles more effectively, but also encourages safer driving that could translate into savings on insurance.

According to a national online survey, Canada is ready to embrace IoT, prompting Primus Telecommunications and Ryerson’s DMZ to collaborate on efforts to educate consumers on its benefits, while latter has focused on getting students to think about IoT uses cases across a broad array of applications.

One thing that may hold up the IoT revolution the age-old lament of a lack of skills, as large organizations look for candidates who have an engineering background that might encompass manufactured products and hardware firmware.

Overall, Forrester honed in on trends that would definitely be top of mind for Canadian enterprises in 2015 in several key areas, and the rest of its predictions addressed recurring challenge and themes for IT organizations, including security and mobility.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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