IDC Identifies Software Macro-Trends

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Research organization IDC recently released a report unveiling eight high-level software trends that are expected to impact the IT industry well into the future. These developments identify fundamental changes in the look, feel and capabilities of software solutions, how technology works, and interactions between buyers and sellers.


The eight issues identified in the “Software Macro-Trends: Reshaping Enterprise Software” study are:


· Enterprise Workplace: The combination of more intuitive, collaborative user experiences and business processes.
· Enterprise Solutions Platform: Comprehensive solutions suites.
· Intelligent Process Automation: Business intelligence being immersed in organizational processes.
· IT Life-Cycle Management: Greater flow and continuity in development and deployment phases.
· Information Governance: More control over data, due to convergence of information systems.
· Intellectual Property Management: Legal protection of ideas.
· Dynamic IT Infrastructure: Adaptive management strategies for IT environments.
· Virtualization: Virtual environment software.


Obviously, it’s impossible to limit the impact of any of these currents to any IT silo. All of them will cut across the industry, but some will impact certain sectors and job roles more than others. For instance, CIOs, IT managers and so forth will care a great deal about things like intellectual property management and enterprise solutions platforms, said Evan Quinn, group vice president of applications research at IDC and editor of the report.


“Different areas impact different segments of IT,” he said. “If you’re back in IT operations, dynamic IT infrastructure and virtualization are two things that are going to impact you really soon if they’re not already. If you’re more on the applications and development side, I think intelligent process automation, IT lifecycle management and information governance are the trends that are going to impact you.”


Many of these trends have already begun to make their mark to some extent in what Quinn said was a burgeoning new age for IT. “Now we’re in a very different era,” he explained. “Some people call it the Information Worker (Era), and those who want to be a little fancier call it the Knowledge Worker (Era). It’s about getting the computer to understand what users want and their patterns. The other aspect is location. Historically, we had to walk to a computer. The old way, in the Transactional Era, was a person had to understand how a computer worked. If you think about the first 20 years or so, most computing was transactional in nature. It was a very simple user experience. I put data in a field, then run a report and what do I get? Lists of data in fields.”


One of the key issues in the report driving this new era is enterprise workplace, Quinn said. “Maybe the one that’s the most subtle, yet the most powerful, is the concept of enterprise workplace. There’s a lot of activity going on in terms of the user experience. How do users consume electronic information? Enterprise workplace is a concept that says the way human beings interoperate with a computer is changing significantly. The notion of enterprise workplace—besides putting the human being back in charge—extends to concept of location as well. In the old-style of computing, you were location-dependent. In the future, you’re going to be location independent. It’s the intelligent joining of people, process and information.”


Quinn suggested that the brunt of the effect from enterprise workplace—such as adaptive user experiences—could come sooner rather than later. “Ten years ago, the idea of a portal was ground-breaking. Now, any Web site that’s been built or rebuilt in the past few years or almost any application you buy offers a kind of portal experience. Some of this is being adapted to mobile devices. You see all this convergence going on. All these things used to be independent and the human being had to provide the glue. The enterprise workplace suggests that finally, after 30 years of computing, the computer is going to start to provide the glue.”


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