Neil Saward and Deepak Bharathan
What top trends in IT are in store for 2012? Well, expect a number of trends that have emerged over the last few years, such as cloud, mobility, enterprise social media, the “Internet of things” and Big Data, to continue to gain traction with IT and business leaders, as well as industry-specific trends such as location shifting and increased adoption of mobile payments.
Here is a quick look at some of these IT trends in more detail and reasons these will be critical in 2012:
Cloud - There will continue to be increasing acceptance of cloud computing as an alternative to more established hosting models. Cloud enables organisations to conveniently access a shared, scalable pool of computing services, which in turn can help the organisation be more agile and drive down deployment costs. However, as organisations experiment with the cloud, careful consideration will need to be given to system integration, data integration and security, particularly between cloud and on-premise solutions.
Given Amazon’s widely reported cloud outage in 2011, organisations will still be cautious and take a risk-based approach to assessing the types of solutions they consider appropriate for the cloud.
Mobility - Mobile will continue to build on its strong 2010/11 with a greater number of organisations considering supporting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and expanding the corporate services available for smartphones and tablets. BYOD enables an organisation’s staff to use their own laptop, smartphone or tablets in the corporate environment rather than rely on ones provided by the IT organisation. This provides greater convenience for employees but can present a security challenge for organisations.
Enterprise social media - Enterprise social media are tools that let employees share and connect with co-workers in private enterprise-only social networks. In 2012, enterprise social media will gain wider acceptance as organisations seek to facilitate collaboration and foster innovation.
Internet of things - Organisations will continue to explore and begin to benefit from the Internet of things (i.e., uniquely identifiable technologies, connected by the internet). This includes smart meter technology installed in homes or medical devices that connect directly to mobile devices. For consumers, this will enable individualised services based on real-time data and for businesses, it will provide critical insights on customer behaviours (see Big Data below), which will help drive business growth.
Big Data - Data continues to be a critical source of competitive advantage for organisations, whether to better understand their customers or to better manage their products and services. However, as a result of the increasing volume of data in our everyday lives, created by everything from Internet searches and social media to smart-technologies, Big Data will continue to become increasingly prominent in IT discussions over the next few years.
Huge datasets are challenging to search, store, share, and analyse but they also have the potential to deliver tangible benefits, allowing analysts to identify trends and harvest insights from the data. Companies such as Google were founded on their ability to manage and analyse huge datasets effectively and organisations across many industries are now starting to examine their own data sources more carefully.
Cyber security - We’ve seen a growing number of headlines related to digital attacks on both corporations and governments. Due to increased levels of connectivity, virtually all business assets now vulnerable in cyberspace meaning that the scale, scope of threat and potency are now more significant than ever. In 2012, we’ll continue to see organisations developing cyber security strategies and focusing their investments on their most valuable asset: information.
Industry specific trends:
Expect to see a number of industry-specific trends that will cause substantial change in certain industries but have limited impact on others:
Location-shifting of media becomes main stream - In the same way that “time shifting” has become common in households, in 2012 we’ll see “location-shifting” become mainstream. “Location-shifting” means that we’ll be able to watch TV shows and movies where we want to, rather than required to be at a TV or a movie screen.
Where the growth of electronic storage media like DVDs and DVRs enabled time-shifting to become mainstream, the key players in the location-shifting arena are hardware makers, media conglomerates and social networking companies, who all have vested interests in getting this right.
Mobile payments finally start to fulfil promise in U.S./Europe - Residents in many Asian countries have had e-wallets on their cell phones and been using contactless payment systems for a number of years. This gives them the ability to pay for purchases by placing their cell phones in the proximity of a payment terminal and can be used to pay for everything from train fares to groceries. In the U.S. and Europe, organisations have been slower to adopt near field communication (NFC) or similar enabling technologies, but we expect 2012 will be the year that brings it much closer to consumers.
Neil Saward and Deepak Bharathan are IT experts at PA Consulting Group.
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