IT 2020 Technology Optimism: An Oracle Scenario


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Looking at today as a basis for extrapolating to IT 2020, I and a good number of our essayists within Oracle saw a world where technologies converge:
Business IT could become indistinguishable from consumer IT, through devices, gaming, and new workforce requirements; The real world could employ augmented reality sensor technology to converge with the online world; IT has already converged with communications technology (ICT), and may drive innovation in healthcare/biosciences, and energy as well.

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IT 2020 Technology Optimism: An Oracle Scenario

  1. 1. An Oracle White Paper September 2010 IT 2020: Technology Optimism: An Oracle Scenario
  2. 2. IT2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario Disclaimer All ideas, concepts, and visions described in this paper are based on the personal opinions of Oracle employees. They do not necessarily reflect any product, service, future outlook, forward-looking statement, roadmap, strategy, market view, or any other view or activity of Oracle Corporation or any of its subsidiaries.
  3. 3. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario Introduction ......................................................................................... 2   Convergence of Business and Consumer IT ...................................... 3   Convergence of the Real and Online Worlds...................................... 6   Convergence of ICT with Other Areas: Healthy and Energetic........... 9   Hang On, Wait a Minute.................................................................... 10   The Biggest Journey Starts with the First Step................................. 12   Preparation, Not Prediction............................................................... 13   Acknowledgements........................................................................... 15  
  4. 4. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 2 Introduction Technology has always been a major inspiration for future visions. Think of the novels of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne in the 19th century and the work of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov in the 20th century. Sometimes the visions of our technological future have been dark, such as in the Terminator and the Matrix movies. Other times, our imagined future looks bright—particularly in the incredibly detailed world of Star Trek. Idealized or dystopian though, where future visions most commonly have gone wrong is in timing. We haven’t seen the day the earth stood still yet; the space odyssey of 2001 is still to come, and most likely the hoverboard from Back to the Future will be delayed until well after 2015. What We Did Last Summer Nevertheless, in this paper we present IT 2020, an Oracle scenario. In July 2010, we asked employees of Oracle to submit a short essay in which they describe their vision of IT in the year 2020. Ten years into the future is enough time to let the imagination fly, yet it is close enough to still be realistic. There were no instructions; the only guidance was that the essays should address the impact of IT on our personal lives, on society at large, or on business. Contributions came from all over the world—from Switzerland to New Zealand, from the United States to the Philippines. The shortest way of describing a scenario is as a “possible future state.” The essays overwhelmingly describe a scenario of technology optimism, where IT has solved many of the difficult issues we struggle with today and broadens everyone’s horizon. But this optimism recognizes that technology is not an end in itself. It must be a tool used to respond to critical human issues and lead humanity to a safe, happy, and meaningful future. Oracle Scenario: Technology Optimism and Convergence There is no doubt that 2020 will be different from today, both in small ways and large. And we can make a few pretty safe predictions about what some of those differences may be. For instance, cloud computing and software as a service are likely to be the dominant style of service and software delivery. We can expect to still have information overload, and mobile computing will become much more pervasive. The seeds of tomorrow’s innovation are often found in the past; for instance, the foundation of virtualization technologies was established in the 1960s. Looking at today as a basis for extrapolating to IT 2020, our essayists see a world where technologies converge. • Business IT could become indistinguishable from consumer IT, through devices, gaming, and new workforce requirements
  5. 5. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 3 • The real world could employ augmented reality sensor technology to converge with the online world • IT has already converged with communications technology (ICT), and may drive innovation in healthcare/biosciences, and energy as well. Technology is increasing its footprint in life, society, and business. However, ultimately people are the reason technology moves forward. Generation Y, the first generation that grew up with the internet, will be a massive driving force for change in the workplace and in society. Convergence of Business and Consumer IT Historically, innovation in IT has come largely from the public sector and academia. For example, GPS systems, the internet, and even the first commercial database implementations were all developed in the public sector. Today, however, considerable innovation comes from consumer IT. For instance, many already have more bandwidth at home compared to the office, and we all bring our PDAs and tablets to the office and expect the same ease of use and connectivity. Increasingly, employees expect the same ease of use and connectivity. Business IT is becoming more personal through smarter software, and consumer IT is becoming vastly more scalable through increased digitization of our lives. Business Applications Today’s business applications are process-centric: users learn to run a particular process. As work becomes more knowledge-intensive, though, tomorrow’s business applications may become people-centric—helping people make the right decisions or perform a certain transaction. By 2020, Generation Y—the first generation to grow up with the internet—will make up as much as 50 percent of the workforce. New business applications will need to be DfY, designed for Generation Y. Business applications will have to be fully collaborative and based on sharing information rather than on the traditional hierarchical reporting structure. Enterprise 2.0 structures will simply be the normal way of working—not only within the enterprise, but throughout the complete value chain. Extensive outsourcing today has already shifted the focus from hierarchy to value chain, and this may further evolve to include suppliers, customers, partners, and other stakeholders working together in virtual communities. Due to increased standardization and consolidation, IT ecosystems are getting bigger. Megavendors keep adding components to their portfolio, and small independent software vendors contribute as well. These contributions, rather than being complete applications, could consist of drag-and-drop components, mini-applications, or templates made available to business application users through app stores, similar to consumer IT. Vendors could give access to these app stores to their customers, and customer organizations could provide access to their users, to simply pick what they need.
  6. 6. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 4 Once this app store infrastructure is in place, business applications can borrow from another trend in consumer IT: the “long tail.” This concept describes the many kinds of music, films, books, and so on that are out of date or not very popular with mainstream consumers, but that have a dependable group of fringe consumers, providing a profitable business via the internet. The same idea can be applied in business. Currently IT departments only have time and resources for applications that support the most important value drivers, ignoring all the other areas that could contribute to an organization’s success. Ideally, business applications would evolve into a set of components that could lead to truly self-built applications. Self-built application frameworks would be feature-rich, lightweight, and they could be built for a single purpose or event. However, these self-built applications would need to be self-documenting as well, to enable auditing and comply with regulations. These predictions foresee business applications borrowing from the consumer world, and in addition the reverse could also take place. In 2020, households may come equipped with a home resource planning (HRP) system. All physical home equipment could be connected to it, such as security, lighting, heating/air conditioning, and kitchen equipment. The HRP system might offer inventory management and refrigerator replenishment through online ordering. It may also include productivity capabilities such as to-do lists and calendar management, and might provide a personal health model to link workout schedules with what the user been eating and drinking. The HRP system’s finance module would handle all banking business. If certain expense categories got out of control, the system would apply business intelligence algorithms to calculate what needed to be done, for instance, in energy management, to get back on track. The washing machine finished its washing cycle at the same time the bagels popped from the toaster. Both sent data to the house hub. The toaster, being a newer model, registered the actual energy consumption and the fact that the bagel setting was used. Devices Today we talk about a work/life balance, but in 10 years, the focus might shift to a work/life blend. Today we already use VPNs to work at home, and crucial workflows and other business- critical activities could become integrated, via mobile devices, into at-home life as well. Just as global enterprises have a 24-hour working day, we may move toward a set of devices that enable us to work in chunks of time, wherever and whenever needed. Devices make sure we are “always on” and have all functionality at our immediate disposal. Many devices are already diskless, and currently use flash memory. Other techniques, such as phase change memory, will improve speed, scalability, and the lifetime of memory chips. The trend toward multifunctional mobile devices is, of course, already all around us. Boarding passes and movie tickets are already routinely displayed on PDAs. Services, such as public parking, already experiment with mobile phone payments—your portable device also could also become your digital wallet. The list of uses for devices far surpasses that of Batman’s belt.
  7. 7. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 5 However, today most uses are personal in nature. Our essayists expect devices to become truly collaborative. She downloaded the cafeteria menu into her device and it recommended a choice based on body-mass index, genetic profile, and the other food she had already eaten this week. Today, if you lose your PDA, it is nothing short of a disaster. Is your address book backed up? And what about all your apps, music, and other multimedia content? In the years to come content could be stored not on desktops, tablets, PDAs, and so forth, but in the cloud, serviced by a public datacenter. Computing could become not device-centric or Web-centric, but people- centric. Your settings, preferences, software, and data could follow you no matter which computer or device you use, independent of screen size and back-end platform. You wouldn’t even have to own all the devices anymore; “device as a service” may emerge. A general-purpose device, combined with the HRP system, could become a “life controller.” User Interfaces The work/life blend could be further shaped by user interfaces. What is common in the army and in aerospace already could trickle down to civilian business. Online simulated game-style training could allow employees to learn new jobs through low-risk direct practice. But our prognosticators saw this as only the beginning. Games—part of consumer IT—could be at the forefront of business innovation, particularly in the design of user interfaces. The desktop of the future might look like a traditional desk—but be entirely projected. There could be a projected inbox and outbox on our desk, and projected documents that we move and work with and put into projected stacks, all based on hand movements, as pioneered in games technology today. Active polymers can turn any surface into a display, so our desk would simply be wherever we choose to sit down. She made a gesture to connect her mobile device to the hotel entertainment system, in order to get more work space. We could incorporate 3-D glasses, which by 2020 may well have become a very stylish designer accessory. In fact, the inside of the glasses could even project images directly onto the pupil. The technology for this already exists, but it hasn’t been commercialized yet. Datacenters and the Cloud Cloud computing can dramatically lower the upfront investments required to run an IT operation. Like many other business innovations, it will trickle down from large corporations to smaller businesses and personal life. For instance, in developing countries, a farmer with an inexpensive computer could benefit from advanced business intelligence applications, so he would know what crop to bring to the market and the best price to ask. Web-based clouds today are application-centric. We store pictures in a different place than where we store our backups, or contact information on our mobile phones. Once clouds become
  8. 8. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 6 people-centric, the datacenters hosting those clouds could become trusted brands themselves. Datacenter superbrands could merge emotional and technical dependence on data storage services. Brands could compete on performance, available space, quality of the analytics to optimize use of the data, and the availability of user communities. Datacenters could themselves become more virtual. We could see hard disks become obsolete, replaced with direct accessible memory. Today’s servers already supplement traditional storage with flash memory; in the years to come, memory could be the main storage medium. By creating a conglomerate of interconnected boxes, each contributing distributed RAM and self-managing clusters, we could see a virtual datacenter—one big machine. Cloud computing could lead to what might be called sky computing: enabling interactions between clouds. However, not all business and private data will move to the cloud; there will always be information over which you’d like to have full control. Convergence of the Real and Online Worlds In the early days of e-commerce, we saw the first convergence between the real world and the online world. The most successful business models were “clicks-and-bricks”—a strong online presence combined with a solid physical delivery. Since then, the online world has grown so ubiquitous that it is part of our personal identity. Today, on YouTube we can watch couples getting married and updating their Facebook status while standing at the altar. The internet is in a constant state of development. In 10 years, we might see a whole new internet, redesigned for higher speed and truly based on bidirectional real-time communication and collaboration instead of merely information exchange. Perhaps the biggest impact on society would be in education. Through cheap access, illiteracy could be wiped out, and children and adults could learn from teachers around the world, at the pace that’s best for their individual needs. They could access classes from home or a common area. To paraphrase a popular saying: “It takes a global village to raise a child.” Sensor Networks Despite heavy process automation and enormous achievements in operational excellence, the bulk of end user effort is still in low-value data entry. Countless millions of keystrokes are needed to keep systems up-to-date. By 2020 we could see smart, self-powered sensors with location- based services and connectivity that could ensure that most business events are captured effortlessly and automatically. Business processes such as order-to-cash and procure-to-pay could become fully automated. No cash registers in supermarkets, fully automatic replenishment, and just-in-time delivery at home. With sensor technology breakthroughs, the number of sensors active at any moment could easily reach the billions. Sensors do not have to have a fixed location; they could be an integral part of your clothing, your valuables (so you will never lose your PDA again), your car, all the goods you
  9. 9. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 7 consume, and more. There could be sensors even in our bodies, connected to a medical hub, alerting doctors in case of emergency. I am spotting Mr. John, in an ambulance. He waves his hand at me. The remote health monitoring system had alerted the hospital last night about a probable cardiac arrest for Mr. John in the next 45 hours. Forewarned, the doctors were well in time. The concept of objects communicating with each other is often referred to as the “internet of things,” and it may be a reality in 2020. Technology can also be a true force for democracy. Today it is already possible to follow an airplane’s flight tracking system on the internet; with a sensor network, and cameras in all our devices, it becomes—for the first time in history—easy for citizens to directly follow what authorities are doing. Business Intelligence The more we live in the online world, the more our virtual actions can be measured. And in the real world, sensors—tracking where we are, enabling targeted advertising, for example—add to the exponential growth of available data. Business intelligence tools must be able to deal with these massive volumes of data; however, analytics also may become more accurate because it is easier to automate online measurement and collect sensor data. But the interaction between BI and people must be richer than just tracking. The tools of 2020 must also be able to seamlessly harness the “wisdom of crowds”—a new concept today—collecting and analyzing the opinions of many in regards to a specific forecast or event. Augmented Reality Augmented reality as it is used today includes applications with which we plot some simple information on top of what the camera on our device can capture, such as a map that includes the location and price of houses for sale in the area, or directions to the nearest Starbucks. We expect entirely new ways of augmenting reality, based on the same principles as today’s applications, to emerge. Imagine, for instance, real-time language translation. In a truly global working environment, the workplace could become more multilingual. This will require much more than a simple translation of words and grammar in multiple languages. Some claim, following Moore’s Law, that in the imagined world of 2020, a US$1,000 PC could rival the computational complexity of most mammals, and artificial intelligence might finally become a reality. Once we can no longer distinguish between a computer doing translations and a live person speaking our native tongue, technology will have passed the Turing test.
  10. 10. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 8 7:00 p.m.: Went out to have coffee with a new friend I met at the virtual section of the Wacken Open Air Metal Festival. I got a ticket at the virtual stand and used my Hyper3D Gear to hook myself in. My Jukebox account, a social network that profiles members based on their musical preferences, indicated that a guy standing at the virtual back row was a close match—we live in the same neighborhood. Identity Management Not long ago, a person’s identity was defined by physical traits, character, and place in society (family background, circle of friends, gender, job, and so forth). Today, a person’s status in society is based on a broader set of attributes, such as computer literacy. A recent job advertisement sought a marketing executive that had at least 50 followers on Twitter. Who we are in online words becomes part of our identity as well. The names we choose, and the “avatars” we build, represent sides of our consumer behavior too. Organizations must be able to deal with the (multiple) identities of users that access their systems. Some organizations already have a single sign-on for all of their business systems, but single sign-on is likely to become equally important outside the firewall. In order for the real or online environment to appropriately respond to user, unified identity management is needed. As a result, a user’s identity should no longer be embedded in an application or enforced at the firewall. Going forward, each individual must have and be in control of his or her own personal master record, and decide who can access it. In this way, individuals will be able to quickly and seamlessly positively identify themselves to any person or organization. The access key most likely will be biometric in nature, identifying people based on their fingerprints, iris scan, voice, or other personal identifiers. Today, the government of India has already started a project called UID (Unique Identification) to create a database of more than 1.2 billion people. The Virtual Company Imagine a company that sells content online, runs all its processes and systems in the cloud, works only with contractors, interacts with customers via the internet, and doesn’t even have a clear ownership. Such a company has no physical presence at all: it is truly a virtual corporation. We’ve seen early examples of that in virtual worlds such as Second Life, where buying and selling property became a true economy, including an exchange rate between Linden dollars (the currency in Second Life) and real-world currencies—an activity that even triggered tax authorities to look into import and export taxes, given the size of this virtual economy. Although there are many companies that do all their business via the internet, so far none has a legal virtual status; these companies still need a real-world address for tax and other purposes. Legislation and regulation will have to change in order to recognize a company with a truly virtual identity. One particular area that needs attention in the virtual world is digital copyrights. It is often said that information wants to be free, and research shows many if not most members of Generation
  11. 11. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 9 Y do not feel that downloading music and movies is a criminal activity. Currently two business models have proven to be successful: free access for consumers, with the service paid for by advertisers, and mobile applications. In the years to come, new business models will need to emerge that make it possible for virtual companies selling virtual products and services to thrive. Convergence of ICT with Other Areas: Healthy and Energetic Information technology and communication technology have converged into what is often called ICT. In the years to come, we expect to see ICT converge with two other areas as well: healthcare technology and energy technology. IT and Healthcare Organizations in the healthcare industry need IT to support their processes. Pharmaceuticals have ERP and CRM systems to run their operations, use BI to analyze data, and use project portfolio management software in drug development programs to keep projects on track. But healthcare has more special needs for IT. Our essayists expect to see IT and healthcare technology converge: they imagine robotic arms performing surgery more reliably than surgeons can, eventually being operated remotely. They also expect to see sensors used inside the human body, continuously collecting and transmitting data as part of preventive medicine. We are already seeing early brain/machine interfaces, in which prostheses respond to input from the nervous system. But before all that is a reality, IT is expected to have an impact on drug development as well. Just as diseases are caused by a complex combination of factors (genetic, environmental, and behavioral) the development of cures should also be segmented and interdisciplinary, to enable personalized drugs (designer pharmaceuticals). To achieve this, great advances in genetics (DNA data) and proteomes (the full set of proteins in an organism) are needed. DNA and proteomes are already expressed in terms of data and data structures. Healthcare technology requires advances in data modeling and data mining, and brute computing power increased by orders of magnitude. Another improvement to drug development could come through translational medicine, a discipline that aims to makes the development process more parallel in nature, so that medical effects (clinical trials), economic aspects (production and distribution cost) and behavioral viewpoints (is the drug being accepted) can influence each other during the development phase. This requires well-integrated and deep analytics. A complete discipline in itself, healthcare (information) technology could see incredible breakthroughs in the years to come. Green IT The development of green IT is expected to go through three phases. Phase 1 is what we are facing today. IT must become more energy-efficient. In some organizations energy management has become the responsibility of the CIO already. Some servers are being positioned as
  12. 12. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 10 particularly energy-efficient. In the hardware space, low-energy storage is possible via arrays of idle disks that are available for archival storage. In some organizations, the heat produced by the datacenter is already used to heat the rest of the building, or even to heat water for the community. In the second phase, on our way toward 2020, IT must be a driving force behind more energy- efficient practices. Some utility companies already offer personalized home pages for individual customers that detail energy consumption patterns throughout the hours of the day and seasons in the year, and the mix of renewable and nonrenewable energy being consumed. In 2020, the home resource planning system could provide an energy-management module that connects this information with a homeowner’s personal finances. Currently, supply chain management applications already offer optimization techniques for fuel-efficient goods distribution. One could even foresee a world resource consumption system that, supervised by the United Nations, monitors world resources utilization. This phase should be followed by a true transformation, in which IT becomes the driver to generate and distribute energy more efficiently. This third phase is based on new hardware and new types of analytic software. Photovoltaics, a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity using semiconductors, comprises a tiny fraction of power-generating capacity today, but it is already the fastest-growing power- generation technology in the world. The smart grid infrastructure already exists, but by 2020 this may well be the norm. Today’s energy infrastructure is a one-way street, delivering energy from supplier to consumer. The smart grid makes it a bidirectional process. Energy is not only consumed; locally generated renewable energy is also contributed to the grid. Although energy distribution today is still largely low-tech, smart grids are fully IT-operated and optimized. This optimization ranges from analytics to align demand for electricity with operating and maintenance plans for wind turbine farms, to an intelligent and adaptive metering system. Hang On, Wait a Minute... The technology optimism scenario described here also pose serious issues. There are tough problems to solve before the trends we sketch deliver net value. For instance, with all the new sensors and devices, what happens with all the old ones? Information overload is a real issue today already, to say nothing of the serious need for security. E-Waste The enormous amounts of discarded sensors, devices, and computers could become a real environmental issue. A solution could come from the cradle-to-cradle concept, already applied to hardware through the recycling of old computer parts into new ones. Cradle-to-cradle could become the norm for hardware manufacturing. Manufacturers should look for less
  13. 13. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 11 environmentally unfriendly materials to use in batteries, computers, and devices, as well as further investing in ways to prolong battery life. Information Overload The sheer amount of data available is an ongoing issue, and is potentially growing even faster than computer and internet infrastructure capacity. If datasets become too big to be copied within reasonable timeframes, physical travel plans will need to be made for transport. In a sense, data collections start to behave like objects in the real world, and even become like individuals— imagine each data collection as a single, unique entity, with its own personality.Two collections of data may be similar or related, but they can never be identical. They can be permanently damaged or even destroyed. They grow older, mature, and even become sick. Their complexity may be so great that their behavior (such as response to queries) can become unpredictable. They would then require datatherapeutical assistance to become healthy again. This could open a whole new market for datadiagnostic tools. Intelligent contextual compression, which goes further than today’s compression techniques that look for common patterns within files, could move the trend in the opposite direction and look for common patterns between files. In this way, music and movies that overlap 100 percent could be stored only once and simply referred to when needed. It is even possible to imagine, for example, such contextual compression detecting the massive overlap of all the pictures taken of the Golden Gate Bridge by tourists, and storing only the small differences, such as the person standing in front of it. Moore’s Law is bound to continue for a while, so processing power keeps growing. Innovation may come from GPUPPs (graphical processing units/parallel processing). GPUs, already heavily used in game technology, make it to advanced analytics in data processing too. Security Originally said by Franklin D. Roosevelt but more well-known from Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.” With connectivity growing and society depending heavily on IT, security is of paramount importance. Security means confidentiality, integrity, and availability. It must not only shield your data from being accessed inadvertently but also protect society from cybercrime. Every type of crime in the real world has or could make its way into the online world as well. Security should not be only a part of risk management; it must become a business enabler, part of an organization’s performance management. Today most cloud applications share a server with other applications, probably from other companies, a principle called multitenancy. As more confidential and sensitive enterprise data moves outside the firewall, the need to audit and ensure compliance becomes even greater. Security needs to become less programmatic and more declarative and heuristic in nature. Programmatic security is embedded within a specific application or device. On the basis of a password or other means of identification, people have their digital identity access authorized or
  14. 14. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 12 denied. Increasingly, business users and consumers travel through many systems, spanning multiple organizations to complete a transaction or when searching for information. Overlaying security and single sign-on structures shields the complexity of the security of many systems, but doesn’t solve it. Declarative security means that the applications simply declare what security measures they require, and the master identity management structures negotiate the access for us. Heuristic security goes one step further, examining user behavior and detecting irregular actions—something credit card companies already do today. Heuristic security requires heavy real-time analytics. In hyperconnected environments, firewalls must move away from the network and the application level, and move to the end of the stack: end-user devices. Legacy With innovation coming from consumer IT, business applications—as stated earlier—will have to be DfY (Designed for Generation Y). Combined with the adoption of gaming technology as part of user interfaces, this is nothing less than a new business computing paradigm. Current business systems can be wrapped with collaborative functionality and better user interfaces, but at some point they must be redesigned. This could be an easier process than the paradigm shift from client/server to Web-based systems, but massive numbers of systems still will be considered legacy. CIOs should feel pressure to replace old systems and migrate to new ones, in order to be able to invent entirely new business processes and business models and to embrace many new requirements. Legacy and version management will be an ongoing process. As different applications and devices evolve at their own speed, there are bound to be version issues. Expect “find and resolve” to become part of “plug and play.” The Biggest Journey Starts with the First Step 2020 is still a long way away, and many steps need to be taken in order to even get close to the collective vision outlined in this paper. But even the biggest journey starts with the first step. Here are some examples of what might happen to get us there. 2011–2012: Knowledge management reappears as a trend. Briefly popular in the 1990s, the time is now ripe for it. Business processes are so knowledge-intensive that the system-centric approach to process management is becoming obsolete, replaced with a more human-centric view. Knowledge management, which never lived up to its promise as a silo set of technologies, becomes integrated into business process management. A unified communication and collaboration standard based on XML emerges. 2013–2014: Search becomes more active. A new service—let’s call it “You”—is introduced, based on predictive analytics. It finds information for you the moment you want it, and actively puts together information packages on topics in which you are interested. You can create a
  15. 15. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 13 variety of avatar personalities for privacy reasons and integrate them into your identity management. On-demand has become the default option for companies to deploy new software. You had 24 e-mails overnight. I was able to prepare your responses to all, except one request for a dinner date at the usual place with Francesca. What is the usual place? 2015–2016: Telepresence solutions with real eye contact are the default on every desktop. Global banks offer borderless accounts. Green computing is still a theme. Of the top 100 largest economic entities, more than half are now corporations, not countries. Governance structures between corporations and governments emerge, tackling wider economic, social, and environmental issues. Oh, and the “Oracle14” database is a huge success ;-). 2017–2019: More people work from home than in an office. The first mobile phone chips are implanted into humans. Blending becomes the term for the next generation of social networks, attending events online. 3-D glasses, active polymers, and holographic desk imaging emerge in the workplace. Preparation, Not Prediction We cannot predict the future, but we can prepare for it. Most likely the scenarios we imagine are inaccurate. In fact, a completely different scenario may play out. Two alternatives: • Where IT now is all about creating an “open world” where everything and everyone can communicate in a seamless way, other factors may change that presumption. For instance, economic protectionism, polarizing politics, and stifling legal issues may create a closed world, where the value of IT is based on exclusivity. Only the privileged may get access to certain information, and communities may change from being open and inclusive to being “by invitation and nomination only.” • A world of heterogeneity and disparate levels of maturity might emerge. IT may evolve linearly and slowly—nothing new compared to today. If we are to compare what is possible with what is implemented in today’s corporate IT systems and extrapolate out ten years, we may see slow adoption of new technologies and in some places even slower implementation. Economic circumstances may drive a cost reduction scenario. That is all not the point. The goal of scenario building is not to be right. Thinking in terms of scenarios opens our eyes to possibilities and forces us to shift away from our daily problems, helping us to consider longer- term issues. Put the "T" Back in IT No matter how the future plays out, it seems very likely that there will be an increased emphasis on hardware. Devices and sensors will play an important role in some way. People, business, and society at large will likely become more dependent on technology. Connectivity is bound to play
  16. 16. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 14 an even more prominent role, increasing the need for investments in IT infrastructure. Security becomes even more important, ensuring that connectivity, whether it is exclusive or open, is safe. The trend in IT management so far has been to favor business skills over mastering technology. This trend may very well be reversed. CIOs with a strong technical background may have an advantage. Other companies may see an increasing need to appoint a chief technology officer. Keep Your Options Open Although the general trend toward convergence is clear, less is known about how things will converge. Considering—or even better, creating—multiple scenarios will most likely reveal that the rate of change is holding steady or increasing, and coming from the world of consumer IT. Business IT as a result will have to become more reactive. In addition, connectivity demands mean that increasingly organizations are not fully in control of their infrastructure choices: they must respond to global or specific demands. Technology lifecycles seem to be shortening, but investments in infrastructure are often made for the long term, and can be irreversible. A situation of high uncertainty and high irreversibility calls for an options-based strategy. In such an environment, it doesn’t make sense to debate what strategy is right or wrong; the only viable solution is to have a strategy that can adapt to whatever the future brings. Scenario building is a way to test such strategies. 1984 The scenario we describe, technology optimism, shows technology responding to critical human issues and leading humanity to a safe, happy, and meaningful future. However, if we extrapolate many of these trends one step further, or if the possibilities that are opened up by new technologies are used in the wrong way, we might see a bleak totalitarian future, like the one described in George Orwell’s 1984. Sensor networks and implants track people’s moves wherever they go and whatever they do. Through centralized datacenters to which we have outsourced all our data, authorities have access to all our dreams, thoughts, communications, and so forth. Whenever technological boundaries are lifted, new moral and ethical dilemmas emerge. Should new and powerful technologies be forbidden, regulated, or restricted to ensure that they don’t fall into the wrong hands or get used in the wrong way? Or should we accept negative consequences because of the overwhelmingly positive impact that new technologies could have? Often driven by public sector and academia, discussions such as this have been prominent in regard to many technology advancements, from GPS systems to stem cell research. But business has a social responsibility as well. In order to be ready for any IT 2020 future state, CIOs should be prepared to engage in moral debate today. Create Your Own Future The future is a consequence of the choices we make. By considering and creating scenarios, organizations can become more aware of those consequences, and can drive their own futures.
  17. 17. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 15 Being active in determining standards, participating in bodies of governance, and driving next practices directly help to point us in the direction we want to go. And it is not always necessary to be the leader or even an early follower. History shows that the ones who hang in there and are determined to get the timing right are the most successful. In order to get it right, organizations should explore the following questions: • What is the potential business benefit of emerging technologies? • How do these technologies fit in your current landscape as well as future architectures? • When will large-scale implementations become economically feasible? • Which uses of technology will differentiate you from your competition? • Which experiments today meet your short-term economic needs and offer a sustainable long-term contribution? With these questions in mind, test your IT strategy against various future scenarios. The more your strategy can adapt to whatever scenario comes true, the more future-proof your organization will be. Acknowledgements The IT2020 team—Frank Buytendijk, Oracle vice president and fellow; Aaron Lazenby, editor- in-chief Oracle’s Profit magazine; and Kevin Walsh, Oracle senior vice president, product development—wish to acknowledge the contributions of all Oracle employees who contributed to this project. Thank you, John Abel, Nemier Al-Shawi, Tino Albrecht, Marcel Amende, Cristian Anastasiu, Ross Armstrong, Akhil Arora, Christian Bandulet, Anurag Batra, Michael Bechler, Harald Behnke, Gerald Bellot, James Bertouch, Vinay Bhatia, Matthew Bialock, Richard Bingham, Cristian Birladeanu, Peter Boglo, Raymond ter Bogt, Gary Born, Frank Bradley, Bill Bridge, Adrian Caliman, James Caron, Luke Carroll, Cesar Castro, Brian Chan, Yvan Cognasse, Michiel Contant, Dan Conway, Michael Counsel, Steve Cox, Iain Curtain, Ashish Dave, Alan Downing, Nicholas Drew, Lalit Duggal, Omar Elkerdany, Jean-Christophe Feraudet, Gabriele Folchi, Douglas Forbes, Micah Friedman, Elias Gargallo, Luc Glasbeek, Constantin Gonzalez, Arun Govindaswamy, Juston Grochoski, Kishan Gunaratna, Hari Gutlapalli, Emanuel Halapciuc, Zahir Hassan, Toby Hatch, Michael Hawkins, Paul Heathcote, Tim Hickey, John Hite, Jeongki Hong, Mike Howard, Farhan Ibrahim, Fumiko Ishii, Krupa Iyer, Javier Jimenez, Joe Jorczak, Vladimir Karagioz, Abdal Khan, Kheam Khan, Orgad Kimchi, Lars Klumpes, Hrishikesh Kumar, Kanupriya Kumar, Vik Kumar, Bruce Kyro, Mike Lafleur, John Lazo, James Leask, Patrick Lemartret, James Maholic, Gogie Malathu, Goutam Mandal, Andrea Manganaro, Robert Marchant, Francisco Maroto, Bryan Meek, Wolfgang Meidenbauer, Mario Mendoza, Michael van der Merwe, Plinio Monteiro, Rihit Motiani, Katerina Mpalaska, Matthias Mueller-Prove, Robert Murphy, Sureshkumar Muthukrishnan, Senthilkumar Narayanan, Yiannis Nasios, Dhirendra
  18. 18. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario 16 Negi, Mike Nelson, Erik Nielsen, Sharma Nitin, Cara O’Driscoll, Desmond O’Neill, John O’Rourke, Thomas Oestreich, David Olivencia, Andres Pagarand, Nirmala Palaniappan, Vijay Panuganty, Wayne Parry, Pankaj Pathak, Paul Perkins, Adarsh Pete, Jorge Pinzo, Florin Postolache, Steve Prescott, Effi Psychogiou, Ken Pulverman, Cristian Raceu, Anjana Radhakrishnan, Sundar Ram, Roland Rambau, Tarek Refaat, Peter Reiser, James Roberts, Serban Rojancovschi, Kevin Rowan, Bill Rushmore, Vijaya Sarode, Aditya Saurabh, Mohamed Sayed, Hubertus Schmidt, Duncan Shores, Lupita Sisneros, Roland Slee, Marc Sluijs, Peter Smith, William Soley, Constantine Steriadis, Nilesh Surana, Garret Swart, Thomas Teske, Paul Thaden, Deepak Thuse, Gabi Trauvitch, Abhijith Unnikannan, Alejandra Vargas, Swati Varma, Andreea Vasiliu, Michel Villette, Dave Walker, Annegret Warnecke, Hans Wiggerman, Elizabeth Wilson, David Woolford, Xingxing Xu, Nigel Youell.
  19. 19. IT 2020: Technology Optimism—An Oracle Scenario Authors: Frank Buytendijk, Aaron Lazenby, Kevin Walsh Oracle Corporation World Headquarters 500 Oracle Parkway Redwood Shores, CA 94065 U.S.A. Worldwide Inquiries: Phone: +1.650.506.7000 Fax: +1.650.506.7200 Copyright © 2010, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Published in the U.S.A. This document is provided for information purposes only, and the contents hereof are subject to change without notice. This document is not warranted to be error-free, nor subject to any other warranties or conditions, whether expressed orally or implied in law, including implied warranties and conditions of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. We specifically disclaim any liability with respect to this document and no contractual obligations are formed either directly or indirectly by this document. This document may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, for any purpose, without our prior written permission. Oracle and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners. 10036922