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Getting the Goat: the “Gartner Predicts” Season, and Assessing Predictions Past…

by Alan D. Duncan  |  November 24, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

In the IT industry, this is the time of year for predictions. We’re all going prediction crazy, and at Gartner, things are no different. So it’s crystal balls and Tarot cards at the ready, and get ready to think about what is coming down the pipe in 2015.  (My own personal favourite method of divination is haruspicy, as I covered in a blog post back in May. But fresh goats aren’t too easy to come by round our way, and my wife Kylie is none too keen on the mess that it makes of the carpet.)

Gartner has the whole industry predictions thing down to a fine art. “Gartner Predicts” is a formal and robust process across the whole Research Analyst community, designed to get us all thinking, collaborating, and assessing what we’re likely to be seeing in the next one-to-three-year horizon (with all the attendant excitement that our predictions generate in the press). The release of the final outcomes is of course carefully orchestrated and slick-as-you-like as you’d expect from a well-oiled corporate machine like Garter. What’s been interesting for me is to discover that the internal “predicts” process gets pretty visceral at times! It’s “survival of the fittest”, with every proposed prediction scruitinised, criticised, edited, evolved and culled to ensure that only the most meaningful predictions get to the status of being an official Gartner “Strategic Planning Assumption” (SPA) and covered in one of our much anticipated “Gartner Predicts” research notes.

And I’m delighted to say that I made the cut for 2015 (Self congratulations no honour I know, but what the heck…)  My first “Gartner Predicts” was published last week :

  • By 2018, data discovery and data management evolution will drive most organizations to augment centralized analytic architectures with decentralized approaches.

(For the in-depth analysis and market implications of this and other Business Analytics SPAs, see “Predicts 2015: Power Shift in Business Intelligence and Analytics Will Fuels Disruption“.)

At this time of looking forward, I thought I would also take the opportunity to look back to the start of the year, when I made some predictions of my own regarding the likely Key Issues for Information Management and Business Intelligence in 2014.  I identified five different prediction topics. How did I do?

  • Privacy & Security: This certainly got plenty of attention, not least because of the reforms in European Union Legislation that mandate an enhanced duty of care for personal data, as well as significantly increased penalties for failure. The growth in Cloud, Mobile and Wearable technology also drove further attention on the privacy and security front, while some very public and costly data breaches and the somewhat mis-named “right to be forgotten” Google court case also raised awareness. there has certainly been a move beyond just talking about data privacy, to actually doing something about it. (I also had some privacy-and-data related fun while I was in Dublin, so that was good!) SELF-ASSESSMENT: Hit.
  • Information Value: My colleague Doug Laney has been actively pursuing the Infonomics agenda for quite some time, and there are signs that the bean-counters are starting to realise that valuing information as an asset is a viable, even vital, financial practice. Solution vendors like Datum and SAS Institute are starting to build information benefit and value traceability into their offerings. But we’re not there yet. SELF-ASSESSMENT: Partial hit/Partial Miss.
  • “Big Data” is a fact of Life: 2014 was the year that “Big Data” came of age, with new real-world solutions and business uses for analytics coming to light almost daily. and unabashed investment in “Big Data” startups. While still not into the “plateau of productivity” yet, the phrase was ubiquitous and the number of “Big Data” analytic solutions being deployed have rocketed (with the attendand cock-ups). The visual Data Discovery vendors like Tableau and Pentaho are offering capability to access multi-structured data, and IBM have launched their Watson Analytics product to keep pace. Indeed, so pervasive are “Big Data” solutions, that we’re getting close to being able to drop the “Big” epithet and getting back to just calling it “data”. Good. SELF-ASSESSMENT: Hit.
  • Records-Keeping is Dead: If that’s so, then Records-Keeping must have been watching and learning from films like World War Z , 28 Days Later and Night of the Living Dead, because it certainly refuses to go quitely! (Aside: if you like zombie apocalypse movies, check out Attack of the Herbals, if you get the chance – it’s zombie romantic comedy movie (“Zom Rom Com”) set in my home turf of the North East of Scotland. Very funny, and hopefully you won’t struggle too much with the Scottish accents!) All in all, we haven’t yet seen records management becoming an inherently value-adding task.  What has been on the rise is a sort of “Records 2.0”, fuelled by e-Discovery solutions and content management solutions with capability for defensible disposal (such as those from IBM and HP). So we’re slowly starting to move beyond pure regulatory compliance and legal retention expectations. SELF-ASSESSMENT: Partial Hit/Partial Miss.
  • Data Governance and the Rise of the CDO: I was in good company with this prediction, as at the start of 2014, Garter also predicted the rise of the Chief Data Officer (CDO). Data Governance and Analytics as a value-adding capabilities are definitely on the rise and the CDO was arguably the must-have executive role of the year. (High profile examples including Deutche Bank , City of San Diego and a national CDO for France). Meanwhile, self-service data governance, Master Data Management and data quality are becoming more mainstream, with value-adding emphasis on data democratisation and information advocacy becoming more important that issues of control. 2014 also saw traction for specific cloud-ready solutions such as those from Collibra, Diaku, Orchestra Networks, and Stibo Systems, making it more effective to engage and deploy data management and governance processes. SELF-ASSESSMENT: Hit.

  That gives me an overall 2014 predictions hit-rate of 4/5 – not bad, even if I say so myself. (And I just did).

One thing that I didn’t foresee twelve months ago – I didn’t predict that I’d be back in the UK, and working for Gartner! Maybe if I really want to become good at this predictions lark, I need to try harder to find myself another goat

Category: analytics  big-data  business-analysis  business-intelligence  data-governance  data-quality  data-science  information-management  trends-predictions  

Alan Duncan
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
22 years IT Industry

Alan Duncan is a Research Director within Gartner's Analytics and Business Intelligence research team. Major areas of interest include: the business value of analytics solutions and architectures, data governance and quality, culture of evidence-based decision making, and data-led organizational change. Read Full Bio




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