Bold Predictions for 2006

We asked some industry leaders for their most provocative predictions about the future of IT, no holds barred. Here's our collection of their most interesting thoughts.

On Leadership...

  • Most critical to the IT industry in the coming year will be the technologies of storytelling and persuasion: In 2006, we stand on the cusp of an amazing technology renaissance. We have three-plus years of accumulated tech innovation champing at the bit waiting to be let out and generate value. IT professionals are going to have to open the gates. To do this they must paint -- via simulation, process visualization and financial modeling what the future could look like. Picture painting/persuading will need to be linked with portfolio management and project management tools.

    -- Thornton A. May, industry observer, management consultant and commentator; and a Computerworld columnist

  • IT agility will be hot in 2006. Companies need people who can quickly size up business situations and develop new systems that effectively leverage existing IT infrastructure. This means using SOA and EAI to combine components of existing systems with new components made of small chunks of program code or packaged software. Agile system builders will roll out usable subsystems every 30 to 90 days. They will know what features to deliver immediately and be able to add further system features as the business situation evolves.

    -- Michael Hugos, CIO, Network Services Co., Chicago, and a Computerworld columnist

  • I predict that 2006 will be the year that IT organizations begin to think seriously about leadership development. As baby boomer managers approach retirement age, preparing a new generation of leaders will become increasingly urgent. Outsourcing and offshoring will not relieve the burden on organizations to supply oversight and leadership for their technical functions. And once they begin to think about development, employee loyalty will become more important. The trend toward thinking of staff, or at least managers, as a commodity will begin to slow.

    -- Paul Glen, consultant, C2 Consulting, and a Computerworld columnist

  • Our greatest challenges in 2006 will likely lie beyond technology. Hurricanes, terrorism, and avian flu are just a few examples of threats that we face today. How we prepare for these threats with technology resembles our activities to prevent mass failures prior to Y2k. IT leaders would be wise to create and test real business continuity plans. How would your overseas IT outsourcing arrangements be impacted? What would travel restrictions or quarantines mean to your IT infrastructure? How would you interact with customers, vendors, and suppliers? These questions may face you sooner than you think.

    -- Wendell Fox, senior vice president, North American Information Resources Field Services, Marriott International Inc., Washington

  • CIOs will be challenged to become marketers. They must absorb, translate and implement the business vision, but they must also remarket, repackage and promote their work to the business.

    -- William A. Mougayar, vice president and service director, Technology Research Practice, Aberdeen Group Inc., Boston

  • The biggest challenge facing every CIO is to conduct a reality-based inventory of the capabilities and competencies of their staff. There is nowhere to hide in the high-performance IT organization of the future. IT leaders will have to figure out who they want on the bus and exfoliate those who don't have the skills and attitudes necessary to move forward. I expect some very visible skill pogroms in 2006.

    -- Thornton A. May, industry observer, management consultant and commentator, and a Computerworld columnist

On Key IT Skills...

  • The hot skills in 2006? Wireless network design, ITIL compliance management, portfolio management and Ajax programming.

    -- Andres Carvallo, CIO, Austin Energy, Austin

  • The hot skills will be business process modeling, business process languages, codeless development, model-driven architectures. Functions that sit between IT and the business, at the cusp of the two -- that's where the magic sauce for IT success is and where the biggest differentiation opportunity lies. Creating Web services that provide business value and intelligence, not just ones that are technically feasible. That is a key skill.

    -- William A. Mougayar, vice president and service director, Technology Research Practice, Aberdeen Group Inc., Boston

  • This will be a watershed year for the appearance of rank-and-file workers in the $60,000 to $80,000 annual salary level combining strong business operations experience with technical abilities, with new career paths, compensation and reward programs put in place to recognize (and retain) their unique abilities and achievements.

    -- David Foote, principal, Foote Partners LLC, New Canaan, Conn.

  • The hottest IT skills in 2006 will be in information security, because the security-breach notification laws in 20 states have suddenly magnified corporate liability for security breaches. I see demand already peaking in our local market for two roles: the security leader, who can write policy, create processes, communicate to clients and executives, and manage projects; and the security guru, who's agile at implementing security solutions across the variety of technologies you'll find in a typical large company.

    -- Jay Cline, data privacy officer, Carlson Cos., Minneapolis, and a privacy columnist

  • CIOs in 2005 turned their attention from regulatory compliance to once again focusing on innovation and creating new products and services. This translated into more demand -- in fact, pent-up demand -- for application development skills relative to infrastructure skills, for example. This trend will continue in 2006 in part due to companies in-sourcing more application development after wising up to the risks and difficulties associated with offshoring development initiatives.

    -- David Foote, principal, Foote Partners LLC, New Canaan, Conn.

On IT Budgets...

  • Budget realities will continue to be a way of life in IT, yet businesses will expect IT to transform to meet the ever-changing business environment. The bar for IT performance will continue to be set higher. Companies will need to drive down operational spending to increase the money to invest in IT transformation.

    -- Frank Modruson, CIO, Accenture Ltd., Chicago

  • CIOs will rebel against their CFOs and CEOs. IT budgets have been squeezed in the past five years to the point of choking innovation and the enablement of new revenue empowered by IT capabilities. At 2% of revenue, the IT budget provides the best 2% investment that any CEO can buy. There isn't any other function in the organization where 2% of revenue goes so far in providing value.

    -- William A. Mougayar, vice president and service director, Technology Research Practice, Aberdeen Group Inc., Boston

On Critical Technology Matters...

  • The IT house needs to be remodeled or replaced. With higher density technology that is power-hungry and cooling-needy (as measured by demand per square foot of space), the old wiring of the data center or office closet just can't work. Whether it is refitting the old space or acquiring new space -- at higher and higher reliability -- "This Old IT House" requires that every CIO have a Bob Villa and the money to make it happen. This unexpected and new challenge is costly and complex. The economics of the new age data center will set the foundation for the economics of IT for years to come.

    -- Howard A. Rubin, senior Gartner adviser; professor emeritus, Computer Science, Hunter College of the City University of New York

  • I predict dual-core technology will gain momentum if certain software vendors modify their licensing policies. Dual-core servers provide a substantial percentage of performance gains over a single core while consuming less energy and rack space. AMD will lead this agenda with their 64-bit architecture. Thanks to these relatively inexpensive servers, companies will begin to see the cost benefit of solutions such as Linux and Solaris x86.

    -- Elvis Cernjul, director of technical service, Direct Holdings Worldwide LLC, Virginia Beach, Va.

  • Despite uproars from privacy advocates as well as civil libertarians, nanotechnology will be put to greater use as a means for authentication. The war on terror will be used as a driver to enable the ubiquitous use of RFID in driver's licenses, passports, credit cards and cell phones. This issue will surely be a political hotbed, and we may see technology, as it relates to privacy and protection, become a platform issue in the upcoming presidential race.

    -- Marc Gartenberg, security consultant and a security columnist

On Project Management...

  • Projects in 2006 will be made more difficult by recurring "myths" about IT and competitive advantage, such as "IT cost cutting is a strategy." It's not just CFOs and CEOs pressing for greater cost control in IT, but CIOs as well. IT cost reduction is greatest when it supports a strategy for more cost-effective IT. In other words, cut the fat and strengthen the muscles and nervous system. Use improvements in technology, outsourcing and IT operations to shift the portfolio towards initiatives contributing to competitive advantage.

    -- Don Tapscott, CEO, New Paradigm, Toronto; Mike Dover, director of syndicated research, New Paradigm

On Globalization...

  • A good deal of recently offshored work will be brought back on shore. Responding to complaints about poor customer service from outsourced, offshore help desks, J.P. Morgan Chase, Prudential, Dell, Cable and Wireless and others have already brought their help desks back in-house. Others will bring a variety of customer-facing functions back. The customer experience is a "moment of truth." A good one deepens the relationship while a bad one has the opposite effect. Major companies will respond to customer complaints about voice mail, rigid rules, difficult-to-understand people, etc. by bringing customer contact back in-house.

    -- Bart Perkins, managing partner, Leverage Partners Inc., and a Computerworld columnist

On Future Trends...

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