CSC has recently published their top technology trends for enterprise IT in 2012. CSC predicts that consumer technology innovations will continue to drive the agenda of enterprise IT. While the economic uncertainties in the world continue, the momentum behind business growth and technology innovation remains strong.
“As the service economy matures, enterprise is changing its view of IT from a choice between lower costs and more value to a new norm of better and cheaper.” In this new world, CSC suggests that IT needs to reduce its focus on the back-office and keep up with the technology explosion at the front of the company.
Cloud Bandwagon Rolls on
The cloud offerings are continuing to mature. The five key elements of cloud (scalability, on-demand, pay-per-use, shared infrastructure, and web access) are now becoming norms of IT service. Both IT and business desire the increased agility and reduced costs promised by the cloud services. According to Gartner, cloud represents the industrialisation of IT capabilities and a new disruptive business model. Just as improvements to supply chain revolutionised manufacturing to become interconnected and global leading to just-in-time manufacturing; cloud services have the potential to do the same to IT.
While the promise of cloud computing remains great, there are a number of issues that are still worrying large enterprises. Issues around transparency and governance, data sovereignty and trust are gradually being addressed by voluntary industry codes of conduct. Enterprises are currently leaning towards ‘private’ clouds that are provided by reputable suppliers.
The digital age has stretched legacy systems to their limits. These legacy systems are holding businesses back from fully utilising innovations, such as clouds, mobility, and consumer technology. More and more businesses are starting to consider legacy replacement / transformation strategies. The benefits of modern legacy systems are beginning to exceed the costs and risks of replacing legacy assets.
Greater Data Visibility
Due to the demands of the digital economy, more and more business data is becoming available online. In the era of the internet, business processes need to be agile. Customers, partners, and suppliers at the other end of these processes also demand that companies’ data have greater visibility. Enterprises can no longer lock their data in internal silos. Instead, enterprises need to consider whether confidential data and information can and should be made available online.
Consumerisation of IT
As more people are using smart-phones, tablets, context aware devices, and applications, interacting with a PC/Laptop are increasingly considered old fashioned and limiting. Almost 90% of new phones sold in Australia are smart-phones. Mobile devices are becoming pervasive; there are already more smart-phones than PCs in Australia. Companies will increasingly need to reach people using these mobile devices. Build-in location awareness, augmented reality, and sensors are redefining how we interact with technology.
Enterprises can differentiate themselves, by leveraging these new consumer technologies, and designing enterprise applications and lightweight ‘App’ libraries that improve productivity and customer experience. Leveraging these new technologies will also enable developers of applications to acquire new skills.
Many businesses are gradually beginning to understand the value of gaining useful insights from vast amounts of unstructured data. With 1.2 billion consumers participating in social media via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, there is a lot of information about customers and businesses on the internet. There is also a lot of data from other sources on the internet, such as YouTube, videos, and podcasts. This large amount of unstructured data presents a challenge and an opportunity. Large amount of data from a variety of sources, company data, social media, video and audio is a challenge to manage and analyse. But those businesses which can extract meaningful intelligence from this data about customer needs, behaviours and trends have the potential to reap large rewards.
An impressive range of new technologies that enable rapid analysis of big data are available in the market. While there is still a gap between the promise and delivery of these new technologies, architects and planners should be considering the opportunities and implications of ‘big data’.
With increasing mobility, users are able to work from anywhere. Many new offices are designed with no designated desks, allowing users to work from any desk, conference room, or shared space. Travelling staff wish to access company systems using not only laptops and desktops, but also smart-phones, tables, and other devices from a variety of locations, such as hotels, the airport, and on the road. Universal access raises concerns about perimeter security. Data theft from mobile devises is also a concern. Enterprises will need strategies to make security robust, while the enterprise perimeter continues to expand.
Rising energy costs and the new carbon tax will force enterprises to think seriously about the costs of computing. As Australia produces most of its electricity from coal, electricity costs are expected to rise rapidly. Within the IT industry, the use of electricity is expected to grow four-fold by 2020. As a result, energy sustainability will need to have a place on the IT agenda.
Tools will be needed for better visibility and reporting of energy use by business units across IT. Efficient energy water use and ethical waste removal will become important. CIOs should begin developing strategies for reducing energy use and improving sustainability.
With thousands of baby boomers retiring every year, business knowledge is walking out the door every day. Some critical knowledge, gained by years of experience, may be irreplaceable. In many cases, there may not be a sufficient amount of new staff to learn from the retiring generation.
Businesses need to make targeted investments in rapid knowledge capture, storage, and transfer. CSC thinks that new human computer interfaces like Kinect and Augmented Reality may allow some retirees to continue to work on the job remotely. Leveraging principles from the gaming industry can improve education and knowledge retention. Such new techniques may be necessary in light of the ‘mass exodus’ of experience.
Globalisation of Talent
Enterprises will search for resources globally in order to find talent at a competitive price. Companies will get work done from places that have good resource pools and which are cost-effective. There will be an increased emphasis on the off-shoring of knowledge work and business processes in 2012. Crowd sourcing and social media may also begin to play a role for skills, content creation, reviews, and feedback.
Enterprises should consider investing in tools that facilitate collaboration and virtual workplace technologies and improve teamwork in distributed teams across countries and time zones.
While many of these trends have been apparent for some time, pace of many changes has accelerated. For example, growth in mobile devices has become a mainstream trend and is hard to ignore. IT and business leaders need to be aware of these trends. They need to understand how these would affect their business and then plan their strategic responses to these trends.