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Five End-User Computing Predictions for 2016

by Shawn Bass, CTO, End-User Computing, VMware

shawnbass-4401So many times people make outrageous predictions for what will come in the next year for IT trends that most often are completely and utterly wrong. I think the issue is that people like to be provocative rather than pragmatic. While I’d love to see a future that has billions of Internet connected things and flying cars, the reality is I still walked into several customers in 2015 that were struggling to complete their Windows XP migrations. That being said, I don’t think it makes sense to focus entirely on the stragglers when thinking about where the industry is headed. However, it does help to keep in mind that there’s a balance of thinking in the industry and despite rapid innovation in this space, there will be those customers that adopt change immediately and those that are more conservative with their approach. What follows are my thoughts on the top 5 trends that will impact End User Computing (and to a greater degree IT as a whole) in 2016.

  • Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation is becoming one of the most important trends affecting IT today. 8147_VM_EUC_Social_Blog_InText_600pxHowever, Digital Transformation is also rapidly becoming one of those overloaded terms that seemingly every analyst and blogger is talking about. Ask five different people what Digital Transformation means and you’ll likely get six different answers. To me, one of the best definitions of Digital Transformation is from Altimeter Group in their “The 2014 State of Digital Transformation” whitepaper which is available for download for free here. In this report, Brian Solis defines Digital Transformation as “The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.

What’s important about this definition is:

  1. It is about a realignment/investment, which isn’t focused specifically on technology like the name seems to imply, but it’s also about transforming business processes as well.
  2. It’s a customer-centricity and customer experience focused message.
  3. It implies a continuum of constant touch points with customers.

At VMware, we believe that Digital Transformation is a big change that is happening in many of our customers and here are a few ways in which I foresee this trend impacting our customer’s EUC environments in 2016:

  1. Purchasing power for IT product/services will continue to shift from IT controlled budget to a line-of-business controlled budget. New purchases of technology will need to be reconciled to a business process optimization that results in improved customer interaction touch points. In other words, we won’t be doing IT for IT’s sake nearly as much in 2016 as we did in prior years when IT controlled the budget.
  2. Many organizations will continue to shift away from Best of Breed products to a smaller set of broad strategic technology suppliers that can supply solutions that assist in digital transformation projects even if those suppliers are not the best in the market at the specific product disciple being sought.   I’ve personally witnessed this trend at a number of different customers I’ve spoken to throughout 2015. CXO’s are growing tired of the complex stack of software solutions and IT specialist teams that it takes to assemble a working solution and are seeking to dramatically simplify the stack with a reduced number of vendors (the old proverbial one throat to choke). Though it’s not just single vendor support that’s driving this shift. Simplifying one’s own internal IT silos goes a long way to reducing overall IT costs.
  3. Business Consumer focused efforts around self-service are driving a lot of transformation internally for CxOs. Digital Transformation focuses a lot on customers, but your customers are not always external. Internal employees that depend on services provided by IT also need the same amount of user experience and customer centric focus. Increasingly, IT leaders are turning to self-service tools that enable their business consumers to feel in control of their own IT is a quick win to establish credibility. This is especially true in the age of millennials who may have never interacted with technology in the way that “You’ve been doing it for 20 years”. But not all hope is lost for IT pro’s because building an effective self-service model can require lots of automation and integration between disparate systems. The smart IT people are recognizing this and beginning to make their shift to one of automation and interoperability.
  • Information Security…or the lack thereof

2015 was a banner year for Information Security and particularly security breaches that have been incredibly costly in terms of lost revenue and more importantly severe losses of private data. In my opinion, the Top 10 major hacks of 2015 were VTech, Patreon, Experian, Ashley Madison, Hacking Team, LastPass, Excellus (BlueCross BlueShield), Anthem, IRS, OPM. All of these attacks are costly to the organizations involved, but in many of the cases it’s the customers of these product/services companies who really lose out. In particular, the VTech, Experian, Ashley Madison, Excellus, Anthem, IRS and OPM hacks are particularly damaging for personal information leakage. I don’t expect that the number of attacks or successful hacks will lessen any in 2016. In fact, it’ll most likely continue to rise in frequency and scale. However, organizations will continue to increase their spending in IT Security technologies and people to continue to improve their protection technologies and processes.

  • Mobile First

A “mobile first” ideology for a company isn’t something that is about devices. It’s about thinking about the process in which work is being done and focusing on making it productive in an on-the-go state. Mobile First is most often associated with smartphones and tablets of course because these are the devices that brought about enhanced mobile work situations. A mobile first mentality means that you are transforming existing processes and technologies to be leveraged in an efficient way on a mobile device.

Whether that means that you are developing native mobile applications to be leveraged by your internal customers (employees) or external customers. Or maybe it’s leveraging a Rapid Mobile Application Development tools (RMAD) or a Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) platform to enable data from legacy systems to be accessed in a mobile friendly fashion. Regardless of which type of mobile first strategy an organization chooses to use, I believe that we will see a significant uptick in organizations who are building for mobile first in 2016.

  • BYOD – Bring Your Own Device

BYOD is a trend that began several years ago as organizations looked to allow their employees to bring their own smartphones and tablets into the workplace and receive corporate data and applications on them. A majority of workplace BYOD has been successfully implemented leveraging MDM/MAM technologies like AirWatch along with sandboxing technologies like AirWatch Inbox for those organizations that do not want native email services on devices. BYOD has been a big success in organizations in the smartphone and tablet space, yet it hasn’t taken off as much for laptop devices.

In 2016, advances in security technologies in Windows 10 will allow more CxO’s to consider delivering corporate applications and data on personal laptop devices. For those who are not so trusting of the enhancements in Windows 10, there is of course the capability to leverage technologies like VMware Horizon Flex that allows an organization to deliver a secure containerized instance of Windows onto a BYOD laptop device. Many analysts are predicting that within the next few years, over half of the devices in a large enterprise will be personal owned devices and not corporate owned. It appears that CxO’s are tired of being in the device lifecycle maintenance business.

  • Big Data and Analytics

Data continues to grow at an insane pace. According to IBM, “Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.” This issue is only compounded by the fact that there are increasingly more devices connected to the Internet. VMware’s AirWatch platform is already managing vending machines with our management agents. These agents help collect data about which products are most frequently purchased in the vending machine which drives business decisions. Gartner predicts that there will be 6.4 billion connected devices in 2016 with as many as 13.5 billion by 2020. All of those devices means a very serious amount of data which will increasingly be more difficult for humans to analyze. This is why Big Data and Analytics tools are becoming such a critical requirement for receiving productive utilization of the data gleaned from these devices. Given the number of devices that are growing along with their explosive data growth, we’re also experiencing a greater number of data breaches than ever before. These factors combined is why I believe 2016 will be a big year for real-time streaming analytics and machine learning. We simply cannot continue to store large amounts of data just for the purposes of running analytics on that data. Streaming analytics will allow for real time analysis of data and prevent the need to store it for excessive amounts of time.

Technology is constantly evolving and we are truly entering an exciting time. The digital transformation and move to the mobile platform are changing fundamental business processes and how we work which will bring about tremendous new opportunities and possibilities. I am particularly excited for 2016 as the VMware End-User Computing team has a lot planned for the coming year, so stay tuned.

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