Gartner Shines Crystal Ball, But Why Should We Believe It?

By Doug Barney

Gartner is known for making tons of predictions, not all of them right (of course to some extent that is the nature of prediction).

Despite not always getting it right, Gartner plunged ahead and released a bevy of predictions for next year, and sees both 3D printing and big data in your future. Of course, these are both hot buzz words, so one would assume they are hot markets.

Gartner makes these predictions to help clients prepare for major changes, which is why it is so important that the predictions have actual merit. And while Gartner has made some major bloopers, the sheer volume of its predictions mean some mistakes are bound to happen, so we’ll give this latest bundle the benefit of the doubt.

In fact, Gartner has full faith in its own thinking, and says you should too. “CIOs and other IT and business leaders should use Gartner's predictions and recommendations to better understand the forces that are changing their world and develop strategies to address the requirements of this fast-changing business environment,” the company says. 

Image via Shutterstock

One area that is truly of major consequence is consumerization. “The pressures of consumerization continue to disrupt many enterprises, forcing them to change their traditional business processes and operational models,” Gartner said.

These predictions are an annual affair, with the last batch coming in the form of “Top Industries Predicts 2014: The Pressure for Fundamental Transformation Continues to Accelerate.”

One vague item that led the report is the notion of transformation. “Transformation remains a critically important phenomenon across all industries. Many industries will face intense challenges in 2014 and beyond, and will have no choice but to radically change their established business models,” said Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Last year saw many industry decision-makers focusing on adopting new technologies to improve business operations by addressing developments such as the Nexus of Forces, the convergence of social, mobile, cloud and information. Today, by contrast, leaders are significantly shifting their business models and processes.”

Here’s what else Gartner had to say:

  • “By 2016, poor return on equity will drive more than 60 percent of banks worldwide to process the majority of their transactions in the cloud.
  • By year-end 2017, at least seven of the world's top 10 multichannel retailers will use 3D printing technologies to generate custom stock orders.
  • By 2017, more than 60 percent of government organizations with a CIO and a chief digital officer will eliminate one of these roles.
  • Full-genome sequencing will stimulate a new market for medical data banks, with market penetration exceeding three percent by 2016.
  • By 2016, 60 percent of U.S. health insurers will know the procedure price and provider quality rating of shoppable medical services in advance.
  • By 2018, 3D printing will result in the loss of at least $100 billion per year in intellectual property globally.
  • By 2015, 80 percent of life science organizations will be crushed by elements of big data, exposing poor ROI on IT investments.”

Where Gartner Has Gone Wrong

An old friend of mine, Ed Bott, is likewise skeptical of Gartner predictions. In a blog, Bott chronicled some of Gartner’s bigger oopsies.

Like in 2006, when Gartner advised Apple to get out of hardware and instead license the Mac to Dell.

Or that same year, when Gartner said Microsoft Windows Vista would be the last monolithic client OS as Microsoft would move to a modular architecture. Last time I checked, Windows 8 was still monolithic.

One item Bott forgot to mention? Back in 2009, Gartner said Apple was going nowhere in the smartphone market.

The analyst house said that Nokia would hang onto 40 percent of the market (divide that by ten and you’ll be close to the real number), and that Microsoft would have 12 percent share. Microsoft’s share of the smartphone market is today closer to 3 percent.

Edited by Alisen Downey

MSPToday Editor at Large

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