What do Apple iPods and Google Gmail have to do with the enterprise? A whole lot, according to a new report released by Gartner -- they're the embodiment of the power of the individual over the organization.
“Gartner's Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users, 2008 and Beyond: Going Green and Self-Healing” represents the aggregated efforts of nine of Gartner's industry analysts. The introduction to the report emphasizes that the collected views reveal an industry that is demonstrating "a strong focus on individuals, the environment, and alternative ways of buying and selling IT services and technologies.” Last year’s report centered around consumers and customers in general. The 2008 research extends that focus: “This year's predictions give the sense that the tide has turned, and now individuals and their concerns are affecting IT more than the other way around.”
Gartner reveals the following statistical predictions:
- More than one-third of IT organizations will list environmental criteria within the top six priorities for IT spending.
- The end-user preference will dictate as much as half of all purchases of software, hardware, and services.
- 75 percent of organizations will use full-life-cycle energy and carbon-dioxide footprint metrics as mandatory hardware-buying criteria.
- Apple will double its U.S. and Western Europe unit market share.
- Early technology adopters will purchase 40 percent of their IT infrastructures as a service.
- In order to maintain preferred-supplier status, suppliers to large enterprises will need to validate their green credentials with an audited process.
- More than 80 percent of all commercial software will include some sort of open-source technology.
- At least one-third of business application software spending will be in the form of service subscriptions instead of product licenses.
The report lists employee “self-determination” as a key catalyst for the reprioritization within enterprise IT. As Generation Y marches into the workforce, organizations are scrambling to keep up with employee demands in terms of savvy technological tools and methods. The widespread consumer use of Google services and Apple computing products has begun to leak into the enterprise. Research has shown that employees -- especially the younger part of the workforce -- will opt for whatever tool makes them most productive.
Whether that means using a personal Mac laptop in place of an archaic workplace PC, or using Google's Web-based Gmail as the preferred email outlet, Gartner warns that organizations must be prepared for a new wave of consumer-oriented demands. In addition, Gartner analysts suggest that corporate-technology professionals examine the firm's predictions "for opportunities to increase their support of consumer-driven requirements and their ability to help the business deliver stronger services to those customers.”
Gartner estimates that, as functionality deepens for handheld devices such as Apple's iPhone and Research in Motion's BlackBerry, users will eventually begin seeing the devices as a primary computing tool -- and may choose to leave personal laptops at home in favor of a pocket-sized alternative. This, in turn, will place added pressure on software companies -- and businesses in general -- to adapt mobile computing strategies and capabilities.
Gartner analysts Charles Smulders and Leslie Fiering recount in the "client computing" section of the report that increased user frustration with personal computing is a main driver behind these self-determination and technology choices. They maintain that, in situations of technical frustration, Apple becomes an attractive choice. “Apple's gains in market share reflect as much on the failures of the rest of the industry as on Apple's success,” they write. “IT departments should be ready to accept employee demands to use Macs over PCs.” The analysis attributes Apple’s interoperability and cradle-to-grave support as key attractions for users.
According to Gartner analyst Mark Driver, thanks to penetration of consumer-driven computing into the enterprise, open-source technology will become commonplace within the next four years. “It has become impractical for mainstream IT organizations to avoid or ignore the influence of open source across a wide variety of industry market segments," he writes. "Doing so will put organizations at a serious disadvantage against competitors that are leveraging mature, stable, and well-supported open-source technologies for significant return-on-investment and total-cost-of-ownership opportunities.” Driver recommends that software users thoroughly examine the open-source strategy of each vendor and how each might create synergy with the open-source model.
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