The Top 5 Industry Predictions for 2013

It's that time of the year again! Industry analysts have gazed into the crystal ball and predicted what future will hold for CIOs and the IT industry – and what’s in store for 2013.  From a meta trends perspective, Gartner, Forrester and IDC all agree that Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Information are the basis of the technology platform of the future and growth engine for businesses moving forward. Gartner calls this the Nexus of Forces and IDC calls it competing on the Third platform, transitioning away from the client/server computing platform to a modern one.

Here are the predictions that made my list for 2013:

 1. The role of IT and the CIO will change – drastically

The roles of IT and CIOs are going through a profound and significant change. Instead of focusing on control and running on-premise IT services, they now focus on driving innovation and growth through smart business strategies.

At the Gartner IT Symposium Barcelona in November, John Mahoney, vice president and distinguished analyst, described the new generation of CIOs as one that "aims not so much to 'run' IT as to ensure that the business achieves strategic value from the use of technology." Gartner has a dedicated CIO research program that covers this transition in more depth. I encourage you to check it out for more interesting insights.

2. Mobile will be how most people access the internet

This seems a bit obvious, but we now have data that shows PCs are no longer the primary way to access the internet. The post-PC era is here, and it’s quickly– and dramatically – changing our day-to-day online behaviors.

Consider IDC 's prediction that worldwide IT spending will exceed $2.1 trillion, up 5.7% from 2012.  Most of this growth will come from mobile devices, which will grow by 20% in 2013 and generate 57% of the industry's overall growth. Excluding mobile, the IT industry's growth is forecasted to be a paltry 2.9%. Meanwhile, Gartner predicts that by 2015, media tablet shipments will reach around 50 percent of laptop shipments.

The era of PC dominance with Windows as the single platform for business is gone. For IT, Windows will be just one of the many environments IT will need to support moving forward.

3. Cloud and mobile will become one

Forrester analyst, James Staten, takes it a step further in his 2013 Cloud Predictions. He emphasizes that enterprise use of cloud is real; according to the latest Forrsights surveys, nearly half of all enterprises in North America and Europe will set aside budget for cloud investments in 2013. And just as many are planning to deploy applications to the cloud.

Staten predicts cloud = mobile. Architecturally, cloud and mobile are becoming synonymous, and there is not much value to a mobile app that communicate through the internet to backend services. Unless you plan to poke a big hole in your firewall to accommodate an unpredictable flood of traffic from mobile apps, apps won’t be on-premise.

As another Forrester analyst, Glenn O'Donnell puts it, cloud plus mobile is a classic "more than the sum of its parts" combination. Organizations will need to take a serious look and see how they can deliver value added services in this cloud/mobile world.

4. Platform capabilities will be a requirement for SaaS vendors

Another interesting prediction came from Gartner’s Yefim Natis. He predicts that by 2015, buyers will increasingly look for SaaS providers with platform functionality. SaaS has quickly become mainstream over the last couple years, and is now part of the overall business software environment for most companies.

IT doesn’t want SaaS services in silos anymore. As we’ve seen with the deployment of traditional application packages like CRM, ERP, HCM on-premise, businesses want customization, extension of SaaS services, and they want the SaaS applications to work well with their existing systems in the cloud or on-premise. Gartner believes that platform capability will differentiate SaaS vendors apart and the ones that have a strong investment. And a company’s vision for its platform will have distinct competitive advantage over those that do not.

5. Rising demand for cloud services – like file syncing and sharing – to meet enterprise content collaboration needs

With the popularity of the tablets like iPad in the workplace, changing user expectations for IT services and continued frustrations with traditional tools such as SharePoint and ECM systems, Gartner analyst, Jeff Mann, predicts that "by 2015, 20% of current ECM use cases will be fulfilled by cloud file sync and share services rather than traditional tools."

Mann notes several cases where organizations adopted a cloud file sync and share service as an adjunct to their full ECM platform to serve mobile users, but then gradually put less and less effort into the larger system. ECM systems still manage the final version of content, but users increasingly perceive their file sharing systems as where most work gets done. Users were getting value from the file-based system and far preferred using it to traditional systems.

Gartner advises that if this is your situation, you should start by listening to users and assess if cloud syncing and sharing can manage their collaboration tasks.

These are my top 5 predictions for 2013. We have a lot coming up at Box, and I think you’ll be excited to see some of the big things we do this next year! What do you think will happen over the next 12 months? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @BoxHQ.