The 3rd platform is defined as the industry's emerging platform for growth and innovation built on the technology pillars of mobile computing, cloud services, big data and analytics, and social networking. Market researcher IDC predicts 2014 will be heavily influenced by the 3rd Platform.
Said Frank Gens, Senior Vice President and Chief Analyst at IDC: "In 2014, we'll see every major player make big investments to scale up cloud, mobile, and big data capabilities, and fiercely battle for the hearts and minds of the developers who will create the solutions driving the next two decades of IT spending. Outside the IT industry, 3rd Platform technologies will play a leading role in the disruption of almost every other industry on the planet."
According to IDC, worldwide IT spending will grow 5% year-over-year to US$2.1 trillion in 2014. Spending will be driven by 3rd Platform technologies, which will grow 15% year over year and capture 89% of IT spending growth. Sales of servers, storage, networks, software, and services will fare better than in 2013.
Emerging markets will return to double-digit growth of 10%, driving nearly US$740 billion or 35% of worldwide IT revenues and, for the first time, more than 60% of worldwide IT spending growth. The economic recovery in China will lead IT spending growth among the BRIC countries.
Within the 3rd Platform, value will start to migrate "up the stack", from infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to platform as a service (PaaS) and from generic PaaS to data-optimized PaaS. Amazon Web Services’ roll out of a plethora of platform-as-a-service offerings for developers and higher value services for businesses will force other IT suppliers to urgently reconfigure themselves to fight for position in the 3rd Platform marketplace. Joining them in the fight will be Google, which will realize it is at risk of being boxed out of a market where it should be vying for leadership.
Cloud services and the technology spending will surge by 25% in 2014, reaching over US$100 billion. IDC expects to see a dramatic increase in the number of datacenters as cloud players race to achieve global scale. This will be accompanied by a similar expansion in the variety of workload-specialized cloud infrastructure services, leading to new forms of differentiation among cloud service providers.
Spending on big data technologies and services will grow by 30% in 2014, surpassing US$14 billion as demand for big data analytics skills continues to outstrip supply. The race will be to develop "data-optimized cloud platforms", capable of leveraging high volumes of data and/or real-time data streams. Value-added content providers and data brokers will proliferate as enterprises (and developers) look for interesting data sources as well as applications that help them to understand their customers, products, and the markets in which they exist.
Social technologies will become increasingly integrated into existing enterprise applications over the next 12-18 months. In addition to being a strategic component in virtually all customer engagement and marketing strategies, data from social applications will feed the product and service development process. IDC expects enterprise social networks will become increasingly available as standard offerings from cloud services providers. This will enable enterprises to further embed social into the workflow, rather than having a separate "social layer."
Datacenters represent the physical foundation underneath the cloud, and are thus a crucial component of the 3rd Platform. As cloud-dedicated datacenters grow in number and importance, the market for server, storage, and networking components will increasingly be driven by cloud service providers, who have traditionally favored highly componentized and commoditized designs. IT hardware vendors will be forced to adopt a "cloud-first" strategy, designing new innovations for initial release and widespread adoption in cloud service provider datacenters.
The 3rd Platform will deliver the next generation of competitive advantage apps and services that will significantly disrupt market leaders in virtually every industry. A key to competing in these disrupted and reinvented industries will be to create industry-focused innovation platforms (like GE’s Predix) that attract and enable large communities of innovators – dozens to hundreds will emerge in the next several years.
IDC predicts that most of these industry platform players will not reinvent the cloud underpinnings they need, but will build on top Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce, and others' platforms. In 2014, it will be critically important for these IT leaders to find these emerging industry platform players and win their business.