Research firm IDC (International Data Corporation) released its projections last December for the development of the ICT (information and communications technology) market in 2014. The forecast was shaped considerably by the rise of the third platform (a.k.a. the 3rd platform), which represents a new phase of computing based in part on rapid-fire processing. The platform is an amalgam of mobile device access, distributed virtualization (a.k.a. cloud), predictive analytics (i.e., big data), and social media.
As noted previously in this blog, Mark Neistat of cloud provider US Signal Company explored the topic of the third platform on behalf of professional association Technology First in May 2013. Here are three key characteristics of the platform from his perspective:
- Virtual & Lightweight – The third platform, which started to emerge in about 2005, followed a twenty-year reign for the second platform, the PC (personal computer), which in turn was preceded by the original platform, mainframe computing.
- Business Anywhere – Of the four technologies that compose the third platform, the most fundamental – or as Neistat calls it, “the biggest plank” – is mobile device access. Analytics, cloud, and social networking are all performed within mobile environments.
- The New Normal – Tablets, cell phones, and e-readers (Kindle, etc.) will represent a higher proportion of Web access than will personal computers by 2015.
IDC analyst Frank Gens noted that the third platform is central to how computing will develop in part because that’s where money is being invested. He mentioned that 2013 was a year in which billions were shifted toward development of the most innovative and sophisticated platform yet implemented.
Looking forward, Gens projected that 2014 would be another year in which companies put huge dollars into expanding their resources and toolsets in the analytics, distributed virtualization, and mobile categories. Companies would also vie for the best talent, aware that cloud development could produce systems that will underpin computing into the 2030s. The third platform will “play a leading role in the disruption… of almost every other industry on the planet.”
Let’s take a look at IDC’s ten-point forecast for this exploding technological field.
- The global computing market will expand 5% through 2014, hitting $2.1 trillion. The third platform will be a huge part of that increase: expanding 15%, it will represent 89% of increases in the computing market. Mobile devices will grow, while PC sales will decline 6%.
- Expansion of emerging markets (countries with “low to middle per capita income”) will again hit 10% to represent 35% of IT spending globally. The computing market in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will accelerate to a 13% boost, especially due to an improved outlook in China. The computing markets in the US and China will expand by the same approximate dollar amount, which is much more impressive for the latter since the American market is about three times its scope.
- The cloud will be strengthened (industry-wide) “‘up the stack’” as PaaS (platform as a service) start becoming a more dominant field, particularly platforms that have the power of big data analytics built into them. The big computing powerhouses will have to re-craft their business models if they want to remain relevant in the third-platform era. (This prediction was spot-on: as if taking Gens’ cue, IBM and Cisco both shifted from hardware to cloud at the beginning of the year, with Cisco specifically focused on the Internet of Things – which falls under the umbrella of the third platform.)
- Mobile computing will gather more of a marketplace share, with smart phones leaping 12% and tablets going up 18%. Android development will again account for more application sales than Apple, but the Apple market will be worth more since prices are typically higher.
- The amount spent on distributed virtualization – the equipment and solutions provided through “as a Service” cloud models – will rise 25% through the end of 2014. Data centers will proliferate as companies providing cloud work to accomplish a worldwide presence. Niche providers will excel.
- The big data market will expand 30%. The desire to crunch numbers as quickly as possible and adapt in real-time will lead businesses to choose PaaS systems with integrated analytics tools.
- Social networks will be built into other enterprise apps. Social media isn’t just great for building relationships with customers, but it is an environment for information collection that can lead to operational improvements.
- The hardware that forms the basis of cloud infrastructure will be in high demand among cloud-focused data centers. Parts used by cloud providers have typically been “componentized and commoditized.” Established component manufacturers must reconfigure themselves for the cloud.
- The solutions supplied through the third platform will provide distinct competitive edges for savvy cloud adopters throughout the business world. The disruption that results can best be maneuvered by building virtual environments centered on industry development.
- Mobile will increasingly stretch beyond phones and tablets to all forms of electronics in the IoT (Internet of things). Tripartite collaborations will increase as IT companies work with telecom firms and semiconductor manufacturers to create new types of online environments.
Third Platform Expertise
Cloud is becoming more dominant all the time, through its connection to the rise of the third platform described by IDC. When you step up onto the third platform, make sure it’s stable: choose a provider that secures your data by SSAE 16 standards and offers an ITIL Certified support staff.
By Kent Roberts