This author had the opportunity to listen in on two webcasts this week from IDC regarding that industry analyst’s firm’s information technology predictions for the upcoming year. Both webcasts were rather interesting and provided thought provoking predictions, especially when one considers that the bulk of the listening audience consisted of many well-known information technology and service providers.

As I pen this commentary, we are in the process of completing our Supply Chain Matters 2014 Predictions for Global Supply Chains which will be shared in just a couple of days. In the meantime, I did want to share for our reading audience important takeaways from IDC’s IT focused predictions.

Last year’s predictions from IDC were all about the termed 3rd Platform, the combined technologies of cloud, mobile, social and big data computing making a significant presence in overall IT spending.  In 2014, IDC now predicts that the battles for IT industry dominance and indeed survival are focused on further investments in 3rd Platform technologies. They go on to declare both an explosion in innovation and industry consolidation, namely a small number of big “winners” in mobile platforms, cloud infrastructure and solution marketplaces as the big vendor players vie for control and long-term revenue growth.

IDC quantifies 3rd Platform momentum as driving 29 percent of forecasted 2014 IT spending and 89 percent of market growth, which is significant momentum. Cloud spending alone is predicted to exceed $100 billion, and skewing toward public cloud services. Of even interest, IDC predicts that in emerging markets such as China, smart connected devices, cloud and big data applications will outpace overall market growth and shape strategies.

If some readers are tending to tune out at this point, thinking that this does not apply to me at all, kindly read on as we share our two most important takeaways from what IDC shared.

The first was IDC’s validation that the IT buyer profile continues to shift to business executives. The firm estimates that 61 percent of technology focused projects will be business funded.  The implication is that procurement and supply chain leaders, along with business and sales and operations planning (S&OP)  teams have to continue to be far more technology-savvy in their understanding of IT technologies options and available marketplace solutions.  It’s now two edged coin with the business holding far more influence on required business process and associated technology investments.  On the one hand, business and functional executives now have greater leverage in articulating the need and benefits of systems investments, either behind-the-firewall or cloud-based in scope.  Technology and services vendors will accelerate their efforts of directly knocking on your doors knowing this market influence shift. Best that you accommodate those requests and sponge as much information as you need. It further implies that accountability for desired and timely business results comes with this new influence, so the technology decision needs to be sound and well grounded. Gone are the days of fuzzy notions as to who is accountable for the timing and delivery of an end result.  President Obama is living that reality right now with the healthcare.gov rollout.

The second important takeaway is one that we have continued to resonate on this blog, namely that decisions related to B2B network platform adoption and expansion are far more critical and need to take on much broader perspectives. That implies functionality and business process support that extends not only in procurement and supplier based management, but deeper dimensions of supply chain response management, supply chain analytics, logistics, supply chain control tower and other supply chain wide decision-support needs. By our view, the B2B backbone, along with its supporting infrastructure and support tools, are the most critical strategic technology decision business and functional executives will make.  The good news is that the CIO along with his/her technology team are not going away anytime soon, and can immensely help with the network evaluation from the technology infrastructure and architecture lens. Their new role is to be your partner in innovation, and your expanded role is the bigger-picture view of the supply chain backbone network, translated to manageable tactical steps of desired functionality.

Our readers are already dealing with the effects of more rapid change, skill gaps and other challenges.  In your New Year’s resolutions, best you think about adding more IT, cloud and network technology knowledge to your skills base in the coming year. You thank us later.

Bob Ferrari, Executive Editor