The Minority Report: Industry Predictions for the Rest of Us
What is happening in our marketplace and what does the future hold for 2014? Let's take a look at four different sectors to see what the next year holds.

We all watch for the annual technology analyst predictons from Gartner, Forrester, IDC and the like. This year, I decided to kick off my CMSWire series with perspective on four of my favorite analyst predictions, plus a bonus one I predict you will not see anywhere else!

Financial Services Prediction: Cloudy With a Chance of Apps

“By 2016, poor return on equity will drive more than 60 percent of banks worldwide to process the majority of their transactions in the cloud.” ~ Gartner Research

It is evident that returns for banks are going to decline, largely because of Basel III, which will require that financial institutions NOT invest a certain percentage of their money, on which they would normally earn a return. I agree that we will see banks increasingly going to the cloud in part to control costs. How fast they will adopt will be impacted by fears regarding data privacy and security, so Gartner’s numbers may be aggressive. Most interesting to me though is the emergence of cloud-based apps that will help banks onboard their customers, deliver loans, implement regulatory compliance and more. These solutions, not just transactions, will be a big part of the move to the cloud.

Government Prediction: Under the Influence

“IT buyer profile continues to shift to business executives. In 2014, and through 2017, IT spending by groups outside of IT departments will grow at more than 6 percent per year.” ~ IDC

IDC is predicting a continued shift in spending from IT departments into the business. For the public sector, I see a related shift in influence becoming increasingly apparent. Although IDC predicts that business offices will purchase technology on their own, in the public sector, budget pressures will more likely take the form of business executives increasingly exerting the defining influence on IT planning and development, and purchasing decisions for their agencies.

Trouble lies ahead for CIOs who fail to understand this influence shift. However, for CIOs who are strategic and aligned with agency business needs, this represents an opportunity to strengthen ties and deliver improved results to the lines of business they serve.

Life Sciences Prediction: An Avalanche of Innovation

“By 2015, over 80 percent of life science companies will be crushed with some elements of big data, exposing poor ROI on various parts of their existing IT infrastructure.” ~ Gartner Research

I agree with Gartner’s prediction of an avalanche of ever increasing data and content, and see this as both an inevitable byproduct and a driver of innovation in the highly regulated life sciences industry. Case in point is the Human Genome Project, perhaps the biggest big data related project to date. While the project has created tremendous opportunity for the industry, at the same time it poses a threat to crush those companies who are not prepared to handle it.

This is just one example of what goes on throughout life sciences. Information is being created so fast and in such quantities that no one has figured out how to properly deal with it. I do see forward thinking companies -- the 20 percent of Gartner’s prediction -- that are putting disciplines and technology like case management and enterprise information management in place to upgrade their existing IT infrastructure, allowing unstructured and structured data to exist in a single repository, while maintaining strict controls and standardizing workflows.

Media and Entertainment Prediction: and the Winner Is …

"Industry-focused innovation platforms and ecosystems. 2014 will see an acceleration in the launch of platforms as a new base of competitive advantage.” ~ IDC

I think IDC’s prediction is particularly relevant to the Media and Entertainment industry who are looking for a foundational platform on which to establish their next generation “digital media supply chain.” This platform will need to allow all the capabilities inherent in traditional media production workflows and establish a unifying layer that will accommodate and enhance collaboration between workgroups and departments. The critical element to this approach will be to link traditional business systems like ERP, CRM and e-Commerce systems together to spur innovation and ease collaboration in the production process.

The competitive winners will be the media and entertainment companies who can achieve new and deeper integration and “wrap” their enterprise business system with a digital asset management and digital distribution capability. If done correctly this will deliver insight, cost control and speed to market that far surpasses current methods of producing and delivering entertainment.

Bonus Prediction: Dimensional Disruption

“By 2020, traditional supply chains will no longer exist. Instead all objects will be created at the point of use by 3D replicators.” ~ Spacely Sprockets Research

George Jetson has a replicator, so does Jean Luc Picard. Now so can you. “Print Your Own 3-D Objects” describes Candy Fab. Resembling a high-end industrial fabber, it prints by fusing a layer of sugar grains. The result: geometric confections including dodecahedra, Möbius strips and sugary helices. Okay, not yet for sale and admittedly not very practical. However, high performance additive manufacturing technologies, first developed in laboratories some 30 years ago, are now available for consumers and 3-D printing offers “the realistic possibility that anyone, anywhere in the world can produce any object they need on demand.” For a thorough treatment of the subject I recommend “3-D printing and the future of stuff.”

If you are looking for early signals to confirm that 3-D printing has arrived as a force to be reckoned with, you need look no further than my new go-to scientific source, The Big Bang Theory, whose 3-D episode was both incredibly funny and insightful. Having said that, it is clear that more traditional industry watchers are interested in 3-D printing. In fact, it’s disruptive potential is highlighted by Gartner who predicts that a new digital industrial revolution has begun that threatens to reshape how physical goods are created with 3-D printing at the heart of it. On the upside, 3-D printing is a means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing. However, Gartner also warns that 3-D printing will result in the loss of at least $100 billion per year in intellectual property globally by 2018. That prediction is one of 10 "Top Predictions for 2014" made by Gartner.

I spend a good deal of my time these days with enterprise information management technologies that can improve the customer experience and at the same time optimize the supply chain, so I am particularly interested in how 3-D printing might impact the retail value chain. In that regard, I definitely agree with Deloitte’s Alison Kenney Paul. In her 2014 “Outlook on Retail,” she points out that retailers will need to keep an eye on the rapid growth of 3D printing applications. Alison predicts:

Printing customized and on-demand products in-store will revolutionize the customer experience and help retailers improve their inventory and supply chain management. At the same time, as personal 3-D printers become affordable, retailers will need to deliver a unique store experience, since a small, but increasing, percentage of customers will be able to print products themselves at home.“

That’s just a leap of faith away from the prediction of a disappearing supply chain, don’t you think?

The Minority Report

Predicting the future is always a tricky thing. Whether you agree or not with Spacely Sprockets Research or any of the other industry analyst predictions, it’s fun to imagine what lies ahead. And there is not necessarily only one version of the future truth possible.

In one of my favorite movies, The Minority Report, official “precogs” who can see the future are used to prevent future murders. All the precog views are analyzed and a computer generates a majority report as the accurate prediction of the future. But the very existence of a majority report implies the possibility of a minority report, a report that is perhaps quite similar but not identical to the majority or possibly even one that paints a widely alternative future path.

So please consider this my “Minority Report,” and let me hear your comments and future views!

Title image by E_K (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Read more from Deb in Dr. Seuss and the Internet of Things