At  Gartner Symposium in Orlando this year, the wise wizards of Gartner reached over the parapet of their ivory tower and lowered the new banners for the next year in enterprise IT.

Here are the main future IT themes, presented in detail for your delight:

  • Internet of Things. Not new, but clearly seen as close, important and relevant. Lots of talk about IoT. More on this below.
  • BiModal IT. This is great. I like this. Recognising that IT has to operate in two modes: Mode 1, keep the lights on and be safe. Mode 2, be agile and innovate. This, to me, solves the DevOpsvsITIL debates. You have both, some parts of IT are ‘solid’ and some are ‘fluid’, and that’s good.
  • Digital Business. Reflecting the new breed of organisation, which is highly agile, built heavily around internet economy and disrupting the more traditional business model. Gartner says, “Digital business is blurring the lines between the digital and the physical worlds, disrupting all industries and redefining the role of IT.” I think this was best explained with the outstanding keynote on the last day from John Zimmer, one of the founders of Lyft. First born from early projects, Lyft was built by two people in just three weeks, and proceeded to disrupt the traditional transportation industry so much that they have received cease and desist orders, before even starting to operate in some regions. They have 80,000 drivers but own no cars.
  • Then, linking on the digital theme, we have the Digital Humanist – placing people at the centre, embracing unpredictability, and respecting personal space. This seemed well received and makes good sense to me. We’ve been talking about user-oriented IT for some time now at LANDESK. This builds on and supports that direction. And, just to keep up with the Joneses, they got themselves their own manifesto. A Digital Humanist manifesto no less. Good sentiment, although there can’t be many IT bodies out there that don’t have a manifesto for something. I’m considering introducing a manifesto manifesto for people considering the introduction of a new manifesto.
“Business moments are human moments” Machinists love automation. Digital humanists put people at center. #GartnerSYM
06/10/2014 10:20

Anyway, wow. That’s a lot of hashtag hype bubbles to talk about, in lots of presentations, lots of keynotes. I was lucky enough to be able to attend many sessions this year, as well as spending good time on the massive ITExpo show floor. You can tell a lot about the typical Gartner attendee from what I think was the number one hottest crowd puller on the ITExpo show floor this year. It was… the fully functioning Commodore64 1980s home computer, running on the LANDESK stand. People were queuing to journey back to their youth and get into some old school Basic programming.


20 GOTO 10

I swear I saw a tear in the eye of more than a few silver haired CIOs as they touched – and gleefully programmed – what had been in some cases, their first introduction to the exciting world of future computing and IT.

Away from the show floor and back to the presentation and messaging content. Two themes particularly stuck with me throughout the week.

Although I’d heard Gartner people mention it before, this was the first time that BiModalIT had really made it fully into the daylight. BiModalIT is recognizing the importance of both solid secure safe IT, and innovative, creative imaginative IT. Obvious really. We need both. All this hot air of DevOps vs ITIL becomes easier to address when we recognize there is a need for both. Like cream and jam, a scone needs both to be most tasty. This let’s the clever IT leader focus resources on running the core business, and also introduce innovation and agile teams alongside.

I did see a parallel between the two ‘modes’ of IT and two of the keynote interview speakers.

Firstly, Satya Nadella. Smooth, polished, charming. Every answer clearly well rehearsed and policed in delivery and I suspect the same for the questions. More politician than innovator – and probably rightly so. Microsoft is, for many organisations, the solid, largely-reliable, core backbone for IT. Satya also had the best socks of the event.

Then balance that with Steve Wozniak. Wow. A verbal torrent, clearly unscripted, totally off the top of mind. After just the first introductory question, he poured forth a fire hose of passionate, excited, rambling words; moving way beyond the question and leaving the interviewers speechless and unable to stop him for the next 10 minutes. It was great. A real character, slightly bonkers and super-passionate. The most common tweet seemed to be “Take A Breath!” I didn’t see Steve’s socks, but I can report that he had a Nixie Watch! How cool is that?

Going back to our BiModal analogy, Wozniak was fast, changing, reacting, not always succeeding, but fluid (a torrent). Satya was prepared, polished, well made, practiced. Solid.

Clever Gartner putting their BiModal message into their speaker selection.

The other hot subject was a focus on the Internet of Things. I can see so many exciting possibilities here, but as time passed during the event I started to get a little frustrated.

I tweeted :

“There seemed to be a lack of real stories of real use of sensors and devices for increased productivity in business. Yes, yes, we all get it for the home, but where are the off-the-shelf sensors that an IT department can buy and distribute? For what? And where are the businesses that have implemented these? This is the big one for me – stop talking IoT for consumer, lets talk IoT for business.”

Anyway, that then takes me to my next point. If you see the possibilities of Internet of Things devices and sensors, then don’t forget that there is actually a relatively easy way into Internet of Things for IT right now. Of course, I’m biased – yes, LANDESK, ITSM – I understand that, but I do still see the redefined and expanded potential of tools that support ITIL Event Management for “device-to-process” communication. I did a presentation for TFT13 about this a year or so back :

I talk there about employees using mobile devices and QR codes to communicate with ITSM processes in the normal flow of their work. Changing that to be a web service alert or URL call from a sensor is simple. In fact I know of one LANDESK customer that has been monotoring remote machine-room humidity using standalone moisture sensors that ping ‘ok,not-OK’ updates back to Service Desk processes. And what do those processes do? Influence and drive the correct human behaviour to ensure continued business productivity. Yes, that’s a simple form of IoT in action folks, it’s possible right now. These real stories and more real Enduser focussed sensors, touch points, QR codes enable exciting, contextual improvements in IT service.

Anyway, there you have it. An excellent week on the show floor and in the thought leadership and presentations at Gartner Symposium. Credit is due to all at Gartner for a most impressive, well run, well researched and well presented IT senior leadership event.