Well, I guess it’s time for me to dust off the old crystal ball – and (again) publicly humiliate myself by making some predictions for what will happen in the upcoming year. I’ve been loath to do this in past years – but as part of my new “happy place” resolution – I’m going to put myself out there and predict some winners and losers in 2009.
SaaS-based Solutions. We have all seen that the rise in Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are on the rise this past year. I think this trend will only continue in 2009 as companies are still in a really “unsure” position and continue to turn the lights off at an astounding rate.
I think most of the “big” cuts will wrap up in early Q1. The problem (and opportunity) is that now businesses will be left with 20% to 50% less people to do 100% of the work that needs to get done. Since the cuts have been (in most cases) all across the board – there are now even less IT folks to go around and they’ve got their own problems to deal with – and chances are good that your project won’t be one of them.
SaaS implementation won’t just be the domain of some Web 2.0 software, but I think that companies will also want to be able to offer the packages that they’ve traditionally bought as on-premises apps as internalSaaS applications as well. This means that ISV’s and software vendors better get a solid SaaS strategy – and get it NOW. ISVs and software vendors also should take a good, long look at being in the financing business – offer customers multiple, flexible ways to pay for their software. The more flexible, the better.
Truly Agile Development. A few years ago offshoring development was all the rage, but now some of the same companies that were early adopters of offshoring are bringing their development efforts back in-house. Why? Productivity. It’s sort of the same model that I’ve seen with folks who are trying to re-develop their aging software in .NET. They throw a bunch of money and resources at it – and because .NET is so complex and has so many moving parts – almost 100% of the time these projects miss their deadlines and budgets by a mile.
While that may be somewhat acceptable during “flush” times – that kind of nonsense will come to a grinding halt. The needs of the business don’t change – and I would even argue that as competition heats up – time frames compress and business needs even grow larger. The need to preserve market position, the need to grow the customer base, the need to be ever more responsive to the needs of the marketplace, etc.
The companies that figure out how to do agile development that actually delivers value in a timely fashion will thrive. Those that don’t won’t.
Projects With Measurable ROI. Gone are the days of “someday” ROI. Gone are the days of “squishy” ROI. Now, as in the last downturn, companies are struggling with budgeting decisions and only those projects that can demonstrate measurable ROI will get funded. By measurable ROI I mean – “How much will that project deliver to my Q1 profitability?” or “How much in hard dollar (yen, euro, pound) savings can we count on by June?”
It’s even more important to have not only measurable targets for increased productivity, decreased staffing needs or other metrics – but software vendors and consultants will have tocommit to the “when” question as well. “WHEN can we see those savings?” That’s going to put pressure on developers and consultants to be able to actually deliver what they say – on time and on budget.
Apple. Even though their stock is down (along with the rest of the world) – they have a history of innovation and they just have the knack of giving people devices that work they way they should. Their hardware is “pretty” and fairly reliable. Their software – although limited only to their hardware – is pretty easy to use, while at the same time build on a robust Linux core.
They no-doubt will pimp the variations of iPod Touch models (think “nano” versions), and may even hint at a new iPhone model. Plus, with Apple, there’s always the possibility of “one more thing” – something that no one has even thought about yet that they’ve been working on in secret for years on. That’s the fun (and frustrating) thing about Apple – you just never know what they’ll do next. One thing’s for sure – they’ll
Traditional Client-Server Applications. I don’t mean ALL client-server applications – because, let’s face it, the browser is one of the worst application delivery vehicles ever invented. The browser only solves one part of the problem – the one that has plagued companies since the dawn of time: deployment. Specifically, deployment of traditional client-server applications.
You know, the ones that has a client you have to install on every single separate client computer. The ones where you have a “dumb” server and a “heavy client” that does most of the heavy lifting… those things will become deader than a doornail.
Does this mean that native client applications (ones that run outside the browser) will die completely. No way in hell. There are applications that simply demand they be native client applications (ones that talk to the serial port for scanners, bar code readers, cash drawers, or that have to access local files or other shared resources).
“Thin” will be “in”. Thin, native clients that load quickly but still have native user interface elements and that don’t rely on the Internet to be “up” will always have a place in business. In 2009, IT managers, software vendors andISVs will be looking for tools like Servoy that can deliver the best of both worlds – while at the same time meets their needs for on-time, on-budget development.
.NET Deployments. I know, it’s sort of an oxymoron – but .NET is seen as a more agile technology especially with companies with large scale COBOL applications or who are struggling under the weight of proprietary C++ applications that are crying out for updates.
The sheer speed of the changes in business and the ever-increasing need for ISVs and software companies to meet the needs of their stressed-out, under-funded, over-worked customers will be the determining factor in their own survival. I’ve never personally seen any .NET deployment that is able to be adapted quickly and efficiently to the changing needs of business (if you have – please feel free to comment!).
Offshoring. If you’ve made it this far in this post – you’ll know the reasons why. I do have some personal experience with this – and even though workers here “charge more” than programmers and companies in “developing nations” – the results speak for themselves. I’ve talked to several companies who are scrapping their entire offshore operations and bringing them back in-house.
One manager I know from a major company (who asked not to be named) summed it up pretty well: “I found out that adding 65 people to our project (for the price of 9 US-based folks) – wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. They would say ‘yes, yes, yes’ to everything but nothing would ever get done. It looks like most of the stuff they’ve worked on for the past 2 years will have to be re-written from scratch here.” DOH!
Sun. And, last but not least, I’m afraid Sun will have to take some drastic actions in 2009 in order to continue their operations. Their $1 billionpurchase of MySQL this year (as well as the tanking market for high-end servers) has seemed to take a huge toll on the company’s balance sheet, forcing them to layoff 6,000 workers.
They’re still struggling with finding a business model for their open source initiatives, and I’m not sure they’ll find the answers they need in 2009. They’ve already open-sourced most of their products (Solaris, Java, MySQL, JavaFX , etc) and now that they’ve done that they are finding it hard to put the Genie back in the bottle and make money off of their technology. Short of becoming anuber consulting and support company – I’m not convinced they will be around to see 2010.
Well, there you have it – my predictions for 2009. This time next year I’ll make sure to review them and also make some other BS predictions for 2010…
It’s good to take a break every now and then. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the downtime between Christmas and New Years – I wasn’t against it by any means – but it usually means that my neglected “honey-do” list is the top priority.
Not this year.
I decided to actually take time off – and just relax a bit. Take a few motorcycle rides (thanks, hon!), read a couple of popcorn-for-the-mind mystery books (rather than technical and business journals), spend time with the kids, and just plain sleep.
I never realized I missed sleeping so much. I actually slept for 12 solid hours last night! Really. Me.
I’m usually the one getting up at 3:00am or 4:00am and getting a few hours of work done before going to the office – but not this week. I just actually watched some movies, went to bed early, and slept late.
I’ve actually been in a good mood – in fact, my daughter had a sleepover with her friend here the other day and I made some dinner for them. Both she and her friend asked “Why are you being so nice to us?”
Huh? That really got my attention. She continued on saying “Whatever you do dad, stay in your ‘happy place’.”
Kids say the most interesting things. I guess she’s right – I’ve been “going” 10,000 miles per hour for so many years that I guess it just became “normal” for me to get out of my “happy place.”
It’s cool to finally get there again. I’m going to try to stay in my happy place more in 2009…
Deep breath…. deep breath… OK. For those of you that have a compelling need to Tweet more than 15 times per day – here’s my personal advice: Step AWAY from the keyboard (or cell phone or whatever).
The whole point of Twitter, and Pownce and Tumbler and ______ (your social network here) is that you share something RELEVANT with your followers. It’s NOT a free-for-all.
If you’re posting more than 10 Tweets per day – then you’re a Twitter Spammer (you know who you are). Stop it! No, really!
Rather than posting what you’re reading – or the fact that you just posted and “can’t believe it” – there’s another medium for you – it’s called a “blog.” You can rant the whole day – and no one will care (trust me!).
But putting out 150 status “updates” a day is just too damn much. No one CARES! Instead, take a deep breath (get your HANDS OFF the keyboard – no one cares that you took a deep breath) and form some funny or interesting thing to say, and then (and ONLY then) post it to your followers.
We’re (I mean I’m) tired of all the spam. If you post and see your own face (only!) on the the entire first page of your XYZ feed – just say NO. NO to posting inane details of what you’re doing. NO to inane details of a trip or who you’re @ hanging with. NO BODY CARES.
NOW, I’m going to Tweet this post….
Although I’m not really the type of person who make predictions for what the year will hold: I’ll tell you this – there are some things that will not survive in 2009:
1. Movie Rental Stores
True story: I was renting some movies earlier this week in my local Blockbuster – when a customer asked the pimple-faced clerk about a movie starring Ed Asner. The teen-something clerk had never even heard of Ed Asner, much less some “Christmas movie with something like ‘Together’ in the title…” So, as the “manager” handed her a (printed!) book with all video titles in it – she couldn’t spell “Asner.”
So she went to her Pentium 286 terminal with a green-screen interface and asked (in a loud voice) “Do I need to get out of search mode so you can ring up that customer?”
Are you kidding me? In 2008. Blockbuster. Yeah, you’re SO on the list for “see-ya” for 2009. People will just get Netflix – (or Hulu) for their movies. Blockbuster – your days are numbered. And FYI Blockbuster – have you never heard of Servoy? I mean, really – WTF?
2. 60% of “Web 2.0″ Companies
Well, it looks like the SECOND Silicon Valley “bubble” has burst. And with it all those stupid sites with stupid names will finally go into the “dead pool.” HOT TIP: If you’ve got a web 2.0 with no business plan – you know, one that actually make MONEY – you’re destined to become the next Net Van in the world. (If you don’t know what Net Van is – and you have a web 2.0 company that’s sucking the tit ofVC money – don’t worry – you’ll find out soon)
Elevation Partners, which has among its principals U2’s Bono, pumped a whopping $100 million into the failing Palm Inc. this week – obviously have a huge amount of faith in the upcoming Nova operating system. You know, the one that will “really” (pinky swear) be the next iPhone killer. No, really. Did we mention we have Bono? Doesn’t matter. Just because you’re first at coming up with a concept that everyone loved and was ground-breaking – if you rest on your laurels (like Palm did) – you will have your ass handed to you on a platter. Granted, a “nice” platter, but a platter nonetheless.
4. 50% of all the retailers you got “gift cards” for on Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa)
Kids – if you got ANYTHING as a “gift card” this holiday season, RUN to the retailer (or eBay) and get rid of it as fast as you can. According to the “smart guys” (that still live with their mothers) – only 25% of the gift cards ever get cashed. Speaking on the authority of someone who just found Sharper Image and Linen N’ Things cards (worth over $150) sitting the in “junk” drawer – hedge your bets and cash those puppies like they were on fire.
You never know when a long standing company like Mervyn’s (almost 60 years old) will go tits-up.com. Like Lehman Brothers (150 years), Merrill Lynch (93 years), etc. There’s a strong chance that after the lack-luster holiday season that half of the folks take their dollies and go home.
Well… let’s save the best for last. It seems that they can’t do ANYTHING right. Let’s face it. They’re a Lehman Brother (in Internet time) – combined with a sprinkle of Palm, a business model like a video store, a future plan like a Web 2.0 company with no business plan, and yes, they just launched a movie site as well.
*SIGH*. Well, here’s to the OTHER companies that have a clue, actually give a crap about their customers, who want to really add value and get paid for that value: hang in there another 3 months and all the suckers will be gone by then. It will be YOUR time in the sun…
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, well maybe my mouse;
The MacBooks and Minis were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Jobs soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of video-gaming danced in their heads;
And mamma in her
thong ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s
When down on my Dell there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the
Vista Windows I flew like a flash,
Tore open the laptop and threw up because it took me 4 minutes to come out of “sleep” because damn Bill Gates decided to do yet another hack and patch job on the crappy OS… but I digress.
Yada yada… home invasion by a stranger with a fetish for “magic” animals… sniffing and stuffing stockings… blah, blah, blah…
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”
NOTE: For those of you over 40: IRL = “In Real Life”
So last week when Apple announced that it would pull out of MacWorld next year, and, oh yeah, by the way, Steve Jobs won’t be doing the keynote THIS year… people went absolutely bat s**t.
There were 1,000,000 blogs on the topic – rife with speculation that Mr. Jobs had a spat with the organizers (IDG) and that they simply were “taking their dollies and going home.” To add insult to injury – they offered up a Jobs Replacement – PhilShiller. Now, I don’t know Mr. Shiller personally, and I’m sure he’s a great guy and everything, but geez… he for SURE no Steve Jobs.
Apple’s cold press release about the fact that they were just dumping MacWorld – right before the show (January 6-9, 2009) was about as childish and stupid as you can get. It’s like getting dumped via a text message.
Would it have killed them to have Steve get up and say “Nothing new… and one more thing… we got NOTHING new to pimp.” Then in February or March, just come out and say that due to _______ (insert standard corporate crap here) they are “re-aligning” theirtradeshow strategy with market conditions… or something?
The “other” big show that’s going on at exactly the same time is the once-huge CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. There was a time where this show was like the old COMDEX show – 150,000 people strong. Where you would physically age while waiting for a cab. When the crappiest, dirtiest, keep-your-socks-on-at-all-times-people hotel room was going for $395 per night. Last year, not so much. This year, even less “so much.”
I don’t know if it’s just a reflection of the recessionary times we live in – or whether people just really don’t give a crap – but it seems like (to me at least) thattradeshows in general are just sucking wind. They’re expensive for both the attendees as well as the exhibitors (I’ve been both, many, many times). Yeah, it’s cool to get all the useless swag to give to your kids and all, but really – what function do these live, in-person events really play?
We live in a world of 140 character “blogs”. A world full of “status” messages on social networking sites, and a world in which 25% of the paper wealth of everyone just vanished overnight.
And it’s not just tradeshows. It’s user conferences and gatherings. Just last week Novell just canceled their “BrainShare” (user) conference because a bunch of the people said they weren’t coming because of restrictions on their travel budgets.
Personally, I say – good riddance. I think it’s important to meet with customers face-to-face. There are certain things that Twitter, and emails can’t convey. However, I think that the power of meeting with peopleIRL is the fact that they all share a certain love for a product, service or industry and they want to be around others who are like-minded.
The problem is that with technology being what it is – phones, and Skype and online meetings and webcams are slowly taking the place of speakers, presenters, drinks in the bar and good old fashioned business card exchanges.
I guess the change in the way we interact together was (is) inevitable. There was a time when I had physically printed manuals for all the software I used sitting on a bookshelf. Now I either just use the online help (usually F1 on a PC application) – or I use Google as my online manual. I don’t need nostinkin’ printed manual – and I don’t need to go IRL with other folks to find out about any new developments in my industry.
I get 24 hour news, 500 blogs that report the absolute latest and greatest, etc. However, I think that if shows like MacWorld and CES go the way of COMDEX – a little bit of humanity goes with it. And once it goes, it’s very difficult to get back.
So I installed the new IE 7 patch – or rather, I should say that Microsoft installed it FOR me. Then I did a restart – and got a HANG. Ok, no big deal – this happens all the time! So, I’ll just restart.
Restart, get welcome screen. HANG.
Restart. Get welcome screen… hard drive spinning for 11 minutes… HANG.
Restart. Get welcome screen… pause…. hard drive spinning for 14 minutes. Login. Loading (except QuickLaunch toolbar not showing)… start up mail client. HANG.
Restart. Get welcome screen… pause…. hard drive spinning for 11 minutes. Login. Loading… loaded. Choose “Turn Off” from options.
Restart. Finally back and running. THANK YOU Microsoft – you’ve managed to push me even closer to buying a Mac!
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