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Issue 43

IT Forecast for 2016

Ovidiu Mățan
Founder @ Today Software Magazine
OTHERS

At the beginning of the year, we all make new plans and set new goals, hoping that the new year will be favorable to their achievement. If some people take into account what the horoscope says, we have decided to give more credit to some important representatives of the IT community in Cluj. Therefore, we asked them to share with us their previsions regarding the year 2016. Based on their answers, we cannot but draw a very optimistic conclusion: year 2016 is going to be beneficial for the IT industry. 

What is your perspective on the evolution of Microsoft technologies in 2016? 

Radu Stefan - Microsoft

In 2016, Microsoft technologies will evolve around productivity and business processes, the smart cloud platform and more personal computers, in order to enhance the power of the new society, with more and more young people starting their first job in a virtual environment rather than in a physical place and shifting from the technology itself to the values and potential of human experiences. Personal assistants such as Cortana will become truly useful through understanding some important aspects of people's lives, such as the tasks they are working on and the commitments they are making to others. 

The Big Data systems will collect information through IoT devices and will influence the decisions related to health, home and employment, by predictive analysis. Video sharing on the web will take over, in spite of TV shows, with a smarter video processing in the cloud, through the Oxford Project. Finally, we will have richer experiences on our mobile phones, through a more advanced technology of the photo camera. 

What is your perspective on the evolution of project management in 2016? 

Simona Bonghez - Colors in projects

Project management is heading towards new areas and its direction can be explained in the conditions imposed by the economy. The business perspective gains ground in front of the debates carried out by professionals in relation to the most efficient methodologies. After a certain involvement in sustaining the Agile methodologies (which are becoming more attractive also to other industries, not only those related to IT&C), business representatives (the management of organizations, in general) are beginning to lose their interest in supporting one methodology or another, whether we are talking about Agile or traditional approaches, their interest concentrating now in the area of obtaining benefits. 

On a volatile market, we are interested in obtaining quick results following the projects launched, but these results are not enough; they have to bring profit, an increase of the market share, recognition, competitive advantage. It is a kind of coming back to the basic concern of business, only that this time it is much more intense, the result being the imposing of this orientation also on the project managers. The discussions will no longer be carried out on methodologies, but on the manner in which the initially estimated benefits can be achieved and ensured. This means that project managers will have to pass from the professional slang to the business language and shift their attention from the process to ensuring the fruition of benefits. 

This means that their responsibility goes beyond the boundaries of the project and extends to obtaining gaining subsequent to the delivery of the results. The connection between the management of organizations and the project managers passes to another dimension. Pay attention, however, to the terms we are using. We are not talking here about Scrum Master or Team Lead, whose responsibilities remain the same, but we are discussing the positions within the project that have a wider perspective on the impact the projects will have on the business: Project Manager, Product Owner. 

It will be interesting to see how the project managers will accept this further responsibility on - attention! - not the results, but on the benefits derived from the delivered results. 

At the end of January, I will take part in the annual strategic meeting of Project Management Institute, from where I expect to return also with a set direction for this organization. The development directions of PMI are based on an annual research called "PMI's Pulse of Profession", whose report will be presented to us on this occasion and which will be released for the public on February. Let's see if my perspective will be confirmed globally. I expect to hear a lot about Benefits Realization… I will keep you posted. 

How do you see the evolution of machine learning projects in 2016? 

Daniel Sarbe - SDL

Year 2016 promises to be a very interesting one for the machine learning projects, since numerous companies have invested important financial and human resources in this domain during the last few years. Machine learning has become more and more accessible, without being limited only to the research domain or that of very big companies. During 2015, companies such as Google or Facebook made their own machine learning frameworks public (TensorFlow - Google, Torch - Facebook) and in the cloud there are more and more possibilities of beginning proof-of-concepts at very low costs and using state-of-the-art algorithms on continuously developing platforms such as Amazon Machine Learning, Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, Google Prediction API or IBM Watson Analytics. 

Locally, more and more companies in Cluj will move on from the phase of experiments and proof-of-concepts to the integration of machine learning algorithms in the pre-production part or even production, and the demand of specialized people in this field will keep growing. Open source platforms used for big scale data-processing, such as Apache Spark and Apache Hadoop, will be used more and more by the companies in Cluj. The interest for Machine Learning and Big Data has increased exponentially in the last two years. As organizers of the BigData/ DataScience meet-up, we have encountered difficulties in finding bigger and bigger spaces to host such events. In regard to the Machine Learning workshops, it was necessary for us to limit the number of participants in order to have efficient workshops. Beyond any doubt, the BigData and Machine Learning domain is to be kept an eye on in 2016, and so is the success degree of the projects in this field. 

How do you see the evolution of IT in 2016 and, in particular, the evolution of the IT ecosystem in Cluj? 

Philipp Kandal

In 2016 we will notice a change of paradigm from the traditional logical programming towards deep learning, but also a continuation of the BigData projects. This thing will give engineers the opportunity to carry out some innovatory work. Cluj is well positioned due to its powerful engineering culture and it will continue to grow a lot in 2016. I particularly hope that 2016 will provide opportunities for the Product Startups from Cluj to get an international exposure and I would be very glad to see the first unicorn leaving Cluj. 

How do you appreciate the evolution of web design and mobile applications in 2016? 

Vlad Derdeicea

The new year comes with many changes and different trends in web as well as in mobiles. Websites are beginning to have as many videos and hero (big) images as possible in the intro, while their mobile versions are quicker and quicker. Just like in the previous years, the focus in on the easiness of using the interface, flat graphics and organic animations which bring life to any digital product. 

Taking into consideration the rapid evolution of mobile devices, it is expected that in 2016 the mobile traffic be equal to that on the desktop, meaning more responsive sites and applications based on verticality and on the well-known scroll of the social applications. Moreover, the fact that last year Google decided that the responsive sites be positioned higher in research than those that are only for desktop is another reason why more and more companies are trying to make responsive versions or even custom applications. 

Interfaces based on cards are among the biggest elements launched by Material Design and can be found in applications, websites and even prints. They are easy to create, they can adapt to any resolution, keep the information organized and are very readable. 

Animations have been one of the biggest trends of 2015, whether they were full screen or small elements that one could hardly notice. In 2016, their popularity will surely grow, even though chances are that their size will decrease. They are an entertaining way of keeping the user focused or even surprise him while the content is uploading. 

Beautiful and readable fonts are easier to find with the emergence of the Typekit from Adobe and that of Google Fonts, and sites are beginning to have cleaner and cleaner fonts, conveying the information in a very easy manner. 

Illustrations and drawings are an entertaining way of highlighting the elements of the site or those of the application. They have grown in popularity through the introduction of icons, with the purpose of making the user understand easier and quicker what the respective steps are or what benefits that service brings. Furthermore, they can create a personal connection with the users, which can bring many advantages. 

The more powerful and lighter colors, resembling those used during the 1980s, are among the elements that have the most chances of being used this year. We can see them everywhere, from Dribble to Google Material Design. 

The websites containing a slider were used at the beginning in a frame, and now they are used in full screen. Each slide is controlled by a button or has a timer which can dictate the period of display. Users can thus navigate much more easily through information, having an almost physical experience. 

Analyzing the examples mentioned above, we notice that there won't be a single trend this year, but rather a multitude of possible trends for web and applications, which designers will be able to use according to each project. But we should not see these trends as more than mere tools or orientations in the creation of a product. They shouldn't be used excessively only because they are hip, but we should look beyond them and use only those that are suitable to the project. 

What is your perspective on the IT environment in Cluj in 2016 regarding the evolution of products, outsourcing, but also that of local programmers? 

Calin Vaduva

The evolution of the IT environment in Cluj has been and will continue to be determined by the global market dynamics. Cluj has taken shape as a regional pole of economic growth based on the demands of the mature markets. At this point, the perspectives of growth for 2016 remain modest, reflecting the deceleration of growth of the global trade and the geo-political tensions. These will bring about pressure on the optimization of costs and that of increasing the productivity, triggering the clients' orientation towards more cautious investments, including in technology. 

In this scenario, Cluj will go through a period of re-positioning. The focus will be directed towards the improvement of quality of the services provided and of the relations with the current partners. Obviously, this thing has an impact on the work force dynamics, both from the quantitative and the qualitative points of view. 

On the long term, we can expect to come back to a significant growth of the outsourcing as well as of investments in the product area. 

How will the gaming market evolve on a global level in 2016? 

Robert Muresan

2016 will be the Virtual Reality year. 

All the producers of VR equipment (HTC&Valve, Oculus, Sony) will launch their equipment this year. It will be the year when we shall witness some radical changes on the gaming market: the traditional screens will be replaced by virtual reality equipment. 

The experience will be considerably better.  

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