1999's technology trends light the way for 2000The technology industry has been shaped by trends for quite a while. Although you should beware of rumors and short-lived fads, you can often rely on trends as important signs of what to expect over the next few years. With vision and good luck, you can peer into the trend wishing well and focus on the ones that make good sense for your enterprise.
Last year showed that consolidation and modularity will be key trends in 2000.
Product makers in many of the major arenas, such as network management and business management, are striving to add every feature you could possibly need to their wares. At the same time, vendors are offering these products in modules to allow you to focus on the pieces you need; who wants an enterprise resource planning (ERP) package just for running a small office?
In the business management arena, ERP, customer relationship management, and accounting fundamentals, such as general ledger, accounts receivable, and accounts payable, are coming together in single packages. Vendors, including PeopleSoft with its acquisition of Vantive, are putting themselves in position to offer every business management feature a corporation could desire. This promises to make accounting easier, provide new and needed reports to management across the entire business without major research projects, and consolidate important customer and business information in one location.
In addition, network management is undergoing a similar revolution as major packages such as Hewlett-Packard OpenView and Computer Associates Unicenter become large, modularized applications. And policy-based networking promises to take these applications to new levels in 2000. Networks will be governed by a set of policies, rather than by individuals who manage them, and will be able to proactively and reactively respond to issues of security, bandwidth, and other problems without human intervention. IT managers will be able to focus more on business strategy and less on day-to-day fire fighting.
Because the Internet is accessible in almost every company, the possibility of outsourcing applications has become exciting. This is particularly interesting to chief technology officers at smaller companies who can use outsourcing to leverage the power of larger applications without the incredible cost of owning and managing them.
The last exciting trend of the late 1990s is the move to distributed computing via the Internet. Although it is currently just a fledgling technology used only for tasks such as defeating RSA encryption and finding aliens, the uses for idle CPU power are almost limitless. As standards are developed, any application that requires extra CPU time will be able to find it on a machine nearby or across the world.
These trends promise to keep us moving at an exciting pace during the next year. Because we will finally be beyond the year-2000 bug, we will be able to focus on new development rather than working to fix old problems. The next decade will show us that we are mere infants in the technology arena -- each trend will grow beyond the dreams we have now.