14 Things to Watch in 2014

Steve Lucas

Posted by Steve Lucas on January 9, 2014

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Looking back on 2013, we saw Twitter go public, Snapchat gain legitimacy, Blackberry struggle, Apple release iOS7, two ‘new’ phones and iPad Air, Samsung release S4, Microsoft buy Nokia, Google release Glass, Microsoft/Sony renew their console wars, and Smart Watches make a (sort of) comeback. Things began showing up in the Internet of Things. We saw six second video sharing become sort of interesting. We learned the NSA pretty much spies on everyone, and apparently building a website to refer people to healthcare providers is really, really difficult. (Like REALLY difficult and should cost almost half a billion dollars). We also saw some big flops — do you remember Twitter Music?

In the world of Enterprise Software and specific to SAP, I’d like to think we saw the platform story get solidified – SAP HANA and in-memory technology become much more of a disruptive force last year. The company as a whole began to gain momentum behind key messages like cloud and platform. Market trends like Big Data, Internet of Things and real-time business contributed to HANA’s uptake and momentum, as did our customer and partner requirements for more real-time systems.

Looking forward, some of the insights I’ve provided should be placed in the “no brainer” category, specifically things like data security and privacy (Thanks NSA), cloud, Internet of Things and Big Data. Not to be left out though are some critical topics, perhaps more nuanced in 2014 than ever before, including social, apps, devices (both new and old), and advanced analytics.

So…without further delay, here’s how I see all this playing out at the enterprise level in 2014:

1. Things will get a lot cloudier: It’s very clear that the demand for enterprise cloud applications now matches and possibly exceeds the supply of vendors providing these solutions. No matter what cloud camp people identify with, everyone seems to agree on that point. My one hope is that we see better integration between cloud applications and hybrid on-premise and cloud deployments in 2014. At SAP, co-CEO Bill McDermott has been very clear that SAP is a cloud company and in 2013 we saw both SuccessFactors and Ariba mature within our portfolio, as well as new offerings like HANA Enterprise Cloud and HANA Cloud Platform emerge.

2. The “Consistent Cloud” will be talked about: This will begin to happen in 2014, but won’t be fully realized. I am not talking about SAP by the way, I am talking about clouds in general. SAP made its bones in the world of Enterprise Applications by offering end to end integration. In fact it’s what draws companies to SAP still. But if you look across ALL business application cloud providers (SAP, SFDC, WKDY, ORCL, MSFT, etc.) it’s clear that customers want more openness and integration. So do we.

3. Google glass, Smart Watches, 3D Printing/Scanning: I felt compelled to talk about this. Why…I don’t know…but I put these three seemingly unrelated things in one bucket. Primarily because they are interesting but not (yet) transformative. I expect to see a LOT of manufacturing software demos of Google Glass with “terminator vision” (hint hint). I expect to see at least five major device manufacturers release smart watches. (And not sell any btw) I expect to see 3D Printing and Scanning become a bigger factor in accelerated design processes as well as offer custom tailored options specific to the individual consumer on products that are mass produced today. I don’t expect these technologies to have breakout years.

4. More Things for the Internet of Things: The global proliferation of connected devices, (i.e. phones/tablets/etc.) along with our rapid approach to the point where the standard question in manufacturing will shift from “why should we” include a sensor in something to “why SHOULDN’T we” will drive IoT to unprecedented levels. As this march towards a connected everything world continues, expect to see apps upon apps upon apps emerge that weave these devices together in new ways we haven’t fully imagined. No place will that be greater than in healthcare…but I am still holding out hope that my thermostat and my window shades will one day be willing to talk to each other!

5. Smart Machines, Smart Systems: Not just because machines will be sensor laden or connected online, but even in disconnected states we will see smarter machines with embedded predictive smarts. The ability for a machine to “decide” that its needs outweigh the needs of other machines on a network or part of a system will emerge and find common use. Two vending machines will be able to ask for replenishment and one will be able to supplant the other…all in real-time as part of a smart(er) supply route. SAP has the technology to embed databases inside devices (SQL Anywhere) as well as make smart decisions on a network in real-time (Event Processing) and of course, move systems from batch to real-time with HANA. This is the basis of SAP Data Management strategy that covers devices, streaming and realtime transactions and analytics in one integrated portfolio of assets. All of this in concert will create smarter systems in 2014.

6. Smart Cities – Yep. Sensors in garbage cans, intelligent traffic routing, mailboxes and parking meters. Ok parking meters are already there, but believe it or not, waste management for cities is right up there with parking and traffic in terms of cost. Of course, the cities aren’t smarter just because they have sensors…I am rapidly approaching the point where I tell you SAP HANA is important.

7. Security & Privacy: Try to read a technology section of a news site and avoid an article about this…you can’t! 2013 forced us as consumers to contemplate the question: how secure and private is our data, really? We can expect to see new privacy protection policies, companies, and services in 2014…and more importantly we can expect people to become their own privacy and security advocates. SAP is driving “consortiums” where customers can create “micro-networks” of secure information: vendor/supplier, retailer/distributor, or business processes involving risk, where banks share economic information. Within 2014, SAP is expanding the security capabilities of our data platforms, mobile solutions and analytic products…and the Financial Services sector is the bellwether for these products. Keep a close eye on FS in 2014. Also watch Healthcare as DNA sequencing becomes mainstream and policy around who owns the sequence (patient/provider/etc…) will drive new and emerging ecosystems and relationships of insurer/patient/provider.

8. Mobile is the first user experience for everything: Period. The mobile application development and security market matured significantly in 2013 and we will see most enterprise organizations accept this reality, along with the reality of employee demand and in turn shift their policies. However, this will only happen as end to end data security extends all the way through to the application on the device.

9. Some vendors will think it’s a good idea to introduce another Mobile OS even though that’s a terrible idea: I am fascinated by the mobile platform market. It has the trappings of the Windows, OS/2 and Mac OS wars. I love it…and while we already have iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry OS…someone out there just won’t be able to resist. Note that I didn’t say anyone would actually release a new mobile OS. The market is still fragmenting vs consolidating and that’s not necessarily a good thing. For SAP – we need to focus on making our Mobile Application Development platform easy to use and position it as the cross-platform solution to the multi-OS woes.

10. Growth in Data Visualization: There are just too many things producing a tremendous amount of data and I don’t think there is (yet) one magic bullet to make it easily consumable. Nor do I think the technology that enabled people to look at data 10 years ago will be the right thing to visualize massive amounts of information today. SAP released a new version of our visualization tool in 2013, Lumira. We even made it free. SAP also introduced Visual Analytics, which allows CAD engineering diagrams to be visualized on mobile devices. You can see a McLaren race-car racing around a track with diagnostic/sensor information, or 3D visualization of IKEA furniture and part replacement inventory. And we have Application Visualization by iRise, where applications can be visualized and hands-on-tested before a single line of code is ever written. But that’s not enough. The convergence of mobile and cloud will play a big part in data visualization. But let’s not forget that while we can look at data in new and interesting ways, it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t act.

11. Predicting the future moves out of “nice to have” status: Companies like eBay with HANA can already predict sales by category each day, with mind boggling accuracy. Companies are investing massive amounts of resources into Data Science (i.e. Data Scientists). But Data Science to some degree has remained a dark art, not yet democratized. That will change in 2014. Companies will look to create scenarios where sales reps can ask smart questions of their CRM systems, like “what ELSE can I sell to this customer”. Organizations will move towards predictive maintenance as a core competency once they realize the potential cost savings that can be achieved. SAP itself made a big investment in 2014 by building a 100+ person Data Science team that is available for our customers to use in testing out these scenarios.

12. The rise of the Chief Data Scientist: Expanding on point number 11, Fortune 100 companies will not just make strategic investments in their data sciences organization, but will appoint a Chief Data Scientist if they don’t already have one. This Data Scientist will want to know if vendors speak the language of Big Data and companies like SAP will have to be experts in not just HANA, but Hadoop as well. (We are btw).We’ll also see Chief Data Scientists play pivotal roles with the Chief Strategy Office so long-term strategies can be data driven.

13. SAP will focus on Platform and Developers: Now to be clear, this is SAP according to Steve…but nonetheless…it’s a simple message and solves 99% of what all our customers need. 2014 needs to be about simplicity. As for developers, it doesn’t matter what product you are talking about or which platform you believe in…this is the crowd to win in 2014. With all the points I have talked about prior to this one, it should be fairly clear that the “app economy,” which John Chambers often talks about, will be a massively impactful thing this year. I’d say above all else, this is something to watch.

14. HANA is mainstream: With over 3,000 customers…the debate about HANA’s future ‘should’ be over…but it won’t be. Certainly not because I don’t want it to be, but more because it’s our competitions only defense. For me it’s simple. Oracle is not the platform for the future of applications. HANA is. There’s too much evidence pointing in that direction and the behavior of SAP’s competition indicates they are worried. Additionally, the technology momentum for HANA is too strong. Reliability and scalability are the norm, leaving the focus on the bigger picture for HANA which is simplifying and reshaping the enterprise platform landscape. SAP HANA is enabling simplicity by collapsing not only transactions (OLTP) and analytics (OLAP) but also text, geo-spatial, graph, predictive, and app services workloads. Period. So if you want a prediction for HANA in 2014 here it is: 10,000 customers and more new deployments of SAP systems on HANA than any other platform.

That’s it for this year’s predictions. I think for next year I’ll plan to do 2,015 things to watch in 2015…just to see how long my attention span lasts.

Happy New Year!

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