I attended IDC’s Directions2011
event yesterday in Boston. It was kicked off by Frank Gens, IDC Senior Vice President and Chief Analyst making a compelling case that the IT industry is at a historic inflection point, entering the third platform for growth.
The first platform of course was the mainframe for computing and terminals for users. The second platform was formed between 1981 and 1986 with the introduction of the personal computer, client/server computing, and local area networks. The number of IT devices and users, and the amount of money spent on IT, grew exponentially over the first platform.
Now, 25 years later, we’re poised for the next platform. It will be built on mobile devices and mobile applications, cloud services, big data with advanced analytics, and social business. To highlight this shift, IDC believes that mobile, app-capable device shipments will exceed PC shipments this year for the first time, at around 400 million units each, and of course they won’t meet again.
Frank made an interesting observation – that most of the innovative young engineers are being drawn to the growing mobile and social platforms, basically “sucking the oxygen out of PC development”. He also noted that there are at most 75,000 applications for PCs but already there are 1.3 million apps for mobile devices.
Cloud services are the back-end delivery model for most mobile applications, and IDC predicts that 80% of all new enterprise applications will be delivered in a cloud model, at least as an option. “Big Data” is a term IDC uses to describe the types of solutions that IBM talks about in its Smarter Planet ads – smart electrical grids, individualized healthcare, optimized traffic, smarter buildings, etc. And “Social Business” reflects the fact that customers have taken control of the buying cycle, and vendors need to shift from push marketing to social marketing – something that is already happening. In a recent IDC study on IT marketing spending, the slice of the marketing budget for social media increased from 13% to 19% in just one year.
The real message behind Frank’s presentation, though, was to ask which IT companies will be the Wang’s, Digital’s and Cullinet’s – the casualties of the last platform shift – as the world moves to the third platform for IT growth. History suggests that those that remain rooted in the PC client/server model are doomed. Those that are embracing the future of IT are poised to experience unprecedented opportunities for growth and profit.
IDC is holding their west coast Directions2011 conference on March 15th in San Jose. If you’re an IDC client and can make it to the event, I highly recommend you do.
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