It took me awhile to go through all the random Top 10 of 2011 lists for various topics, so now I’m ready to look ahead to 2012’s preponderance of pundit predictions. Or maybe I’m just fashionably late. I’ve tripped over a few reports here and there – some quite possibly developed by caffeinated squirrels on a treadmill.
On the technology front, I found one more interesting than others. Instead of putting a small group of experts in a room and not letting them out until they agree on a list, Baseline Magazine annually surveys business and technology managers at companies with 100+ employees to ask about their organizations’ investments, plans, and strategies. Across several hundred respondents, patterns evolve.
Whoever these people are, coming from the desk I use, I like the way they (and their companies) think. Following – their predictions and my two cents (maybe three or four).
#1 Tablet Computing Experiences Remarkable Growth We’re not talking about using your iPad to take Words with Friends on the go. These are business trends based on what companies are doing to improve the way they work. According to Baseline, “Half of midsize and larger organizations expect to increase their investments in tablets at least moderately—significantly more than any other technology we asked about in our survey.” The challenge is that a lot of tablets are built for a consumer market rather than enterprise use. Instead of trying to make a square peg drop into a triangular hole, Cisco Cius is purpose-built as an enterprise-level collaboration device with applications to match through Cisco AppHQ’s marketplace of verified applications.
#2 The Marketing Tech Revolution For many IT departments, the idea of marketing and technology in the same sentence hasn’t exactly seemed logical. But with technology essentially invading every aspect of how we interact, its time has come. Customers have more choices of how to interact with companies, so companies need to take advantage of more channels to market to and communicate with them to meet their needs. Baseline uses the example of Republic Services a waste-management company that uses new collaboration technologies to improve its customer-relations system. (And yes, coincidentally, a Cisco customer.)
#3 Network and Wireless Build-Out With network infrastructure investments expected to increase 38%, companies are not just focusing on wiring, but implementing their wireless, wide-area, and beyond to improve mobility for employees and business continuity. We just happen to have a few networking products in our catalog.
#4 Advanced Communications Organizations are looking for more ways to communicate, connect, and collaborate to be more effective. Collaboration tools like web conferencing, unified communications, and messaging are part of that equation. From where I sit, there are options out there that do a little of this and a little of that, but Cisco collaboration solutions have all of the pieces of the puzzle – applications, devices, infrastructure, security — that work together to allow users to be more mobile, social, virtual, and visual in the way they work.
#5 Business Intelligence and Big Data It seems organizations have figured out that they have a heck of a lot of information floating around the various nooks and crannies and twists and turns of their information systems. Many have decided that they need to make a better effort in figuring out how to manage and analyze all of that good (or not so good) stuff. Based on the stuff I found in my attic the other day, my take is that this is going to be on lists for quite some time. The first step is figuring out where all of the data is and what kind it is, then organizing and using it.
#6 IT Strategies Shift Toward Revenue Growth Let’s see, can we make that major cost center deliver some cold, hard cash? More organizations are realizing that cloud computing not only provides cost benefits in optimizing resources, simplifying operations, and bringing systems together, but also points to innovation and ways to develop new business models through the flexibility that cloud enables. Baseline identifies a possible spark behind this trend: “The source of this trend may be the personal experiences of business leaders with their own social networks, mobile devices and self-provisioned apps.”
#7 Development of the Customized Cloud I don’t think anyone would be willing to say that cloud computing is not going to float in the priority lists of organizations across industries. Many companies talk about “the cloud” as this single magical nebulous (or is it cumulus) thing, but at Cisco we realize there are many types of clouds. So pardon me if I don’t disagree when Baseline says this “necessitates plenty of integration: of cloud services with each other, of private cloud solutions with public ones and of the cloud infrastructure with non-cloud infrastructure.”
#8 Security Investments Remain Strong Some IT people close their eyes only to imagine themselves armed with a small padlock against a swarm of new applications, mobile devices, everywhere access, shared content, integrations of old and new technologies, combo plates of corporate-managed and personal devices, and dragons. Spending on security products may have lagged for a few years, but the rest of these trends are putting it back on the priority side of the budget list.
#9 The Consumerization of IT Continues All those things we can do with our nifty social tools, mobile apps, mobile devices, and such have us asking, why aren’t my work tools so easy to use? The pressure is on to make business applications as easy to use as consumer apps. And 28% of respondents in Baseline’s study are increasing spending related to the BYOD phenomenon so people can “bring their own devices” to access corporate data and applications. (Cue the security investments.) It works for me. Because I can get what I need on my own device, I got to ditch my corporate-provisioned brick.
#10 Hardware Investment Continues All that data in prediction number five has to go somewhere. And don’t expect anyone to stop creating and collecting data because there’s just no more space for it. Companies are turning to solutions like unified computing servers, blade servers, and storage solutions that put the pieces of the puzzle together in ways that are make data centers more efficient and keep all of that information accessible and secure.
So we’ll see how all of these predictions pan out over the course of the year. Something always rises up that guides companies to change a priority or two during the year. It will be interesting to see what that is. But as the majority of these pan out in the months ahead, I’m thinking Cisco’s a good technology partner to have. Just sayin’.