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Maturing cloud, evolving BI headline 2011 IT trends

New year will see traditional business intelligence evolving to meet mobile workers' needs and cloud computing hype die down to reveal just another sourcing option, reveals analyst report which also points to other industry trends.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

Understanding that cloud computing is not a "silver bullet" but just another sourcing method, and the separation of reporting and analytics within traditional business intelligence (BI), will be two of the more evident IT trends to emerge in 2011, according to Springboard Research.

In its Asia-Pacific IT Market Predictions 2011 released Tuesday, the research firm revealed that hype generated around cloud in 2009 and 2010 will give way to a "more sober, realistic understanding of the relevance and applicability of cloud computing" among CIOs and senior IT decision-makers.

While the debate over public, private or hybrid cloud deployments have sown more market confusion over the past 12 months, such discussions will serve to help organizations better understand and position cloud-based approaches in relation to existing IT initiatives, the report added.

"Over the next 12 months, we expect cloud computing to increasingly be considered alongside, and often compared to, other related sourcing approaches, including those offered by more traditional outsourcing vendors and hosted service providers," said Springboard.

It also pointed out that security concerns over cloud deployments will "subside slowly" through 2011 as the sourcing model matures and IT executives understand it more. Instead, IT decision-makers will have to grapple with the interoperability and integration of systems, data and processes that need to be accessed across multiple internal and external deployment environments.

Rise of mobile, collaborative analytics
Another key trend to emerge next year is in the BI arena, where demand for reporting and analytics functions will render the term obsolete, Springboard noted. The bifurcation between these two functions within BI is largely a result of increased demand from end-users for mobile reporting services, it reported.

With regard to reporting, the research firm pointed out that as organizations request for more social, collaborative and geolocation-driven reports that can be easily accessed by its workers on the ground, BI vendors will have the opportunity to separate BI functionality into various layers. These include specific products optimized for particular mobile platforms.

For example, the ability to generate customizable report on their mobile devices will be a key employee requirement.

Analytics, on the other hand, would evolve into what Springboard coined, "collaborative analytics". It described: "[This is] the process where users are engaged in a collaborative and iterative goal-seeking approach to problem solving." It comprises a mesh of reporting, analytics, workflow and collaboration services that aids workers' decision productivity.

Furthermore, collaborative analytics will be increasingly tied to mobile devices and remote workforces, though, not exclusively, according to the report. Uptake, however, will only gain widespread acceptance from 2015 onward, it noted.

Other key predictions in Springboard's report include:

Managed service providers (MSPs) to increase value-add services.
The coming year will see MSPs expand beyond basic infrastructure management to include more application-based services, Springboard said. This is because as more enterprises move to application outsourcing, which combines infrastructure and application management to reap the benefits of a better integrated approach, MSPs are forced to adapt to meet their customers' requirements.

"IT automation and 'non-linearity' will fuel efficiency, productivity and higher margins for MSPs," the report added.

Maturing HTML 5 to create app-centric Web.
In the Internet space, HTML 5, the next iteration of the Web coding standard, is expected to be formally ratified by late-2011, Springboard noted.

This will drive the Web away from being a document-centric space to a more app-centric environment, which will enable "a new wave of mobile apps to be delivered to a wide range of devices", it added.

Acknowledging that HTML 5 has yet to be formalized as a formal W3C standard, the research firm pointed out that many existing browsers, including mobile Web browsers, already support the majority of features that define the standard. These features include video playback, richer interfaces and greater interactivity across a wider range of client devices.

As HTML 5 matures, Springboard believes there will be considerable developer support for the Web standard toward the end of 2011, particularly in the development of dynamic content that straddles desktop and mobile environments.

Information security to top enterprise priorities.
The current WikiLeaks saga has turned the spotlight firmly on how companies protect their data, the report noted. Information leaks such as those released by the whistle-blowing site inflict "reputation damage, competitive losses and even criminal charges" on companies involved.

To prevent this, Springboard foresees that enterprises will "invest far more" in technologies, services and business processes to protect their most sensitive information assets, which could boost adoption of client virtualization.

One-stop shop to trump general-purpose IT.
General-purpose IT offerings have served businesses "exceptionally well and will continue to drive a majority of the market for years to come", the research firm noted. That said, it added that integrated stacks of hardware, software and services in devices and appliances will gain prominence and challenge this form of computing model in 2011.

Major IT vendors such as Cisco Systems, Oracle and IBM have been actively strengthening their one-stop shop value proposition through the bundling of disparate technologies across the spectrum. This will continue to intensify in 2011 as a means of market differentiation from their competitors, Springboard noted.

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