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Grading my 2017 Predictions – A Report Card

If hindsight is 20/20, my 2017 foresight was around 20/70.

It’s become quite the thing to make year-end predictions. I do it every year – here are my projections for 2018. But even more interesting are the reflections on just how prescient you actually were in foreseeing the future.

How did I do in 2017? The overall thread of my expectations for last year focused around interconnection; I think it’s pretty clear that is still the direction interwoven and increasingly sophisticated technology is going. I am discovering that it’s easy to predict trends but more difficult to accurately foretell their timing.

  1. Mobility Plus
    Think apps that treat employees like consumers, on campus, incorporating the latest in consumer technology for business use.
    This concept certainly hasn’t taken over by storm, and there’s still a significant room for growth. However, we are certainly seeing a growing and sophisticated development of mobile apps. Additionally, I believe we will organically see consumer tech integrated into business use as AI increasingly becomes embedded into products and solutions (even those not overtly labeled an “AI PROJECT.”
  2. Cloud Plus
    The magic bullet will be to manage, network, orchestrate, and secure across several public clouds and your own private cloud.Bulls eye! This prediction came to full fruition. 2017 was the year of multi-cloud. It almost seems absurd to think of an IT strategy that considers ONLY private or a single public cloud. There is not one company or CIO I can think of that doesn’t talk about hybrid cloud.
  3. IoT
    The Internet of Things wave will go from quaint and neat to gaining powerful capabilities via machine learning and AI. It will unfortunately also become a big headache for IT due to the rise in security incidents and breaches.I’m giving myself a solid A here, too. IoT is happening. Machine-learning and AI are picking up more and more speed. And IT is still behind. A survey conducted midway through last year noted that almost half of all U.S. companies that use IoT devices have been hit by a security breach. I think VMware CTO Ray O’Farrell’s perspective on how the IoT market is shaping up is spot on.
  4. Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers
    Financial institutions will break away from other industries as they welcome blockchains into their systems. This technology also holds potential to secure IoT systems in the future.Despite the massive news hype and investor speculation around crypto-currencies, this one really hasn’t evolved as much as I had expected it to. Make no mistake – the technology is there. And it is solid. But as an industry, we haven’t really figured out what to do with it. At this point, it’s more of a solution looking for its problem.
  5. Uberization of IT
    The gig economy will spread to IT, resulting in the “Uberization” of IT.I’ll start off by addressing the elephant in the room – Uber had a tough year. At the start of 2017, Uber was the disruption buzzword du jour. The fact that even the verbification of the company received so much backlash emphasizes the importance of culture, code of conduct, and ethics for a company. “How” you do something is just as important as “what” you do.Although IT hasn’t yet outsourced itself or become a part of the growing gig economy I continue to believe this will occur. This trend is one that’s easier to predict what will happen instead of when it will actually occur.
  6. IT-Driven Innovation and Superior Customer Experiences
    In 2017, the “I” in IT will stand for Innovation in more ways than ever before. Across enterprises, IT is innovating in core areas and its impact on digital business re-design will accelerate.

    Every company is becoming a technology company. Tech firms have captured 42% of the rise in the value of America’s stock market since 2014 and four of the largest market cap companies in 2017 were in tech. And the key to success in this brave new world is for CIOs to help their organizations transform digitally. IT is in process of evolving from a function or a service. The reality is that technologyis the business. This is still a work in progress, but IT departments are growing hand-in-hand with business innovation.
  7. Shadow IT = Business IT
    Related to # 6 above, the shame of “shadow” IT will give way not just to acceptance but to the encouragement of business-driven IT initiatives.If IT is the business, then it is the responsibility of everyone within an organization. Therefore, shadow IT no longer exists and there is no reason to be afraid. IT can come out of the shadows and be one team with the business. The future of the workplace is at stake as rapid advancements in technology are changing the way business is conducted.
  8. Manufacturing Returns to the US
    Technological innovation will continue to see the return of manufacturing to the United States. They will be geared toward knowledge workers and will require critical thinking, math, and technical skills.I’m grading this one as Incomplete. If you base your evaluation solely on news touted on social media, there are scores of new manufacturing jobs – but I’m just not sure. We are certainly seeing mass-produced cars, such as Tesla, but it still remains to be seen if more jobs come back. Readers – what do you think?
  9. Leadership
    The career path in IT, from operators to CIO and beyond, will become more formally defined and established.It may not yet be formally written into corporate succession plans, but this is occurring. While you may have been led to believe otherwise by shows such as HBO’s Silicon Valley, the role of a CEO is more than mere showmanship. Successful companies rely on the CEO to drive growth, innovation, and culture, while articulating a comprehensive and inspiring vision. Today, successful and growth oriented companies are seeking leaders who are quietly aggressive and authentic, over those who are overly aggressive and flamboyant – your CIO.CIOs, especially in Silicon Valley, are very plugged into the startup scene and mingle with VCs. They understand trends and speak business lingo. They value their organizations, nurture leaders and manage careers of hundreds and thousands of employees, on a global scale. The CIO also often tends to be the one with the most global mindset, because they were forced to outsource decades ago. Now they are the ones with the best global insights.
  10. Open Source
    The importance of Open Source will continue to rise as it becomes a significant component of mainstream enterprise business models.
    This is another example of a prediction that is happening, just perhaps not at the pace I initially anticipated. For example, at some point this year the original Apple OS code for LISA will be released into open-source. Granted that code was originally written in 1984, but my point stands – companies are embracing and contributing to the advancement of open source. This trend will continue and offer more options for innovation, however, there will always be room for companies to create differentiated products through research and development.

As changes resulting from the speed of technology keep us on our toes, what keeps us grounded is our focus on the interconnectivity of people, processes, and technology. As humans, one of the things we cling to is a set of core principles to hold onto during times of transformation. Like I mentioned in No. 5 above, the goal of our industry is not just to make shiny objects, but to move society forward. Again, it is not all about what we do, but rather how we do it. At VMware, this is one of the primary reasons behind our EPIC2 values – regardless of where the tech takes us through the years.


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