Enterprise architects face more exciting — and greater — challenges as the age of the customer takes off. But technology invention, innovation, and spending are notoriously cyclical. In fact, our first tech trends report in 2009 predicted a boom cycle through 2016. And we have seen this — with social, mobile, cloud, analytics, and big data, to name just the obvious ones. A big finding of our research however is this: The Age Of The Customer has changed the classic technology investment cycle.  For example, technology management’s spend will grow about 5% in North America in 2016. This is a decent pace. However, spend on business technology — the things that let firms win, serve, and retain customers — will be double that!

All this new money will shift the focus of investment from point solution inventions toward “end-to-end innovation” by 2018. And by end-to-end, we mean across the customer life-cycle and customer journeys as opposed to classic ‘enterprise integration’. This shift will happen in three phases:

  • Visionaries will dominate dawning phase trends as they drive point inventions to address specific business organizations’ opportunities.
  • Fast followers will discover the limits of point solutions in the awareness phase and begin to work through them.
  • Enterprises will shift investment toward integrating capabilities across the customer life cycle in the acceptance phase.

Here is a summary of our top trends from the September report, The Top Technology Trends To Watch: 2016 – 2018. We plotted the trends against our assessment of point versus end-to-end business investment appetite. The icon colors and shapes indicate our analysis of trend pace. Use this chart to formulate your strategy for each trend. For example, your business will likely not want to hear end-to-end talk about dawning phase trends. But you will need a plan.

Obviously, there is a lot to say about each trend and I encourage you to read the report. But there are a couple of hidden gems that I wanted to point out in closing:

  1. Our dawning phase trends (1 and 2) might seem oddly placed given the hype around big data / advanced analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT). But we see visionaries going beyond the ordinary. They know big data isn’t about the data; it is about using insight to drive your business actions. And the IoT isn’t about devices; it’s about the new relationships you create with your customers.
  2. Trend 6 is about the impact hyperconnected hyperadopters  are having. They elevate the importance of customer insights and agile investment planning practices as a way of coping. And trend 3 analyzes the resurgence of interest in APIs, not as technology for SOA but as key way of coping with the hyperconnected, mercurial business environment.