We have seen wave after wave of technical innovation hit the technology market place over the past decades. Picking the IT trends that will impact your company; selecting the ones to ignore and the ones to surf ahead on early is an art that makes or breaks companies. The “bricks to clicks” revolution that started in 2000 is still hitting companies today and those that lagged behind are slowly dying. In this blog I want to highlight some things that your company may need to consider and understand the impact of right now.
Already with us and growing every day. If your site is not mobile friendly and your advertising not reaching consumers on their phones then you are losing out. 76% of shoppers check prices or data on their mobiles, and huge numbers buy when on the move rather than in the shops. 85% of business travellers check websites for products while travelling on mobiles and tablets, mobile data usage is up 60% year on year – the statistics say it all. Making your business mobile friendly was really last years trend but I am including it as most companies still have a long way to go to catch up. There are a few essential things to consider: check that your website works well on smartphones and tablets, make sure your CRM system is integrated with your mobile presence, adjust your advertising to reach mobile customers, integrate mobile with your other channels to market, basically think how you consume data today and how your customers are changing. Even business to business is moving mobile.
2. BYOD – Bring Your Own Device
Many companies are losing out to the fear factor on BYOD. Most employees now have better phones, better laptops, better computers than the company can provide, they update them faster and more often and they are more comfortable using their own. Employees want to use their own devices at work but they cannot because companies fear IT security and data issues. How to respond? Shift your spend, allow your employees to use their own devices, stop spending on hardware and licences and use the free capital to improve the processes, software, hardware and protection for IT security – not just for your firm but them too. The trade off is huge, removing the depreciation and licence cost burden of machines is a simple decision, it frees massive amounts of capital and enables the workforce against a small penalty of higher spend in IT security. Techniques exists to allow your employees to work securely from anywhere on any device – productivity and employee satisfaction rises in most firms that adopt BYOD.
3. “EaaS” – Everything as a Service or better known as The Cloud
Companies don’t need their own servers; many don’t even need their own software. The rise of service provision over the internet is destroying the need for any company to have and own its own hardware and software – almost every service can be obtained on a pay per use or lease style agreement and consumed down the wire. This is nothing new but it is an unstoppable trend, and, like BYOD, security and data privacy fears are holding back firms, but most have unwittingly been doing it for years. Take the banks for example – huge numbers of them have been using down the wire services from Bloomberg and Reuters for decades, their trades and trade data hosted off site (not to mention their payrolls…) but when it comes to a decision on moving even a basic operational system to a web service they baulk at the implications. Infrastructure, platform and system as a service is not a new concept, wire services and bureau services have existed since the 1960s but the market buzz is holding companies from adopting the inevitable. The IT department is shifting to a service management model and those that fail to adopt will see their costs escalate relative to their peers.
4. Social Media and Socialisation of Business
The real impact of social media is wider than most people realise. It is not just about using Facebook as another webpage or advertising medium, it is the paradigm shift in the way consumers interact and collaborate with suppliers that is the real impact of social media. Whilst this is software driven, the massive impact is the changing behaviour of every person, including all interactions within a business. There is a shift from send to seek/search – the shift from emailing a small group to posting ideas and data may seem small but the whole model of data consumption in businesses is shifting as this trend increases. Blogs to discuss ideas and strategy, Wiki pages and shares to collaborate on projects, “walls” to broadcast events and suggestions, colleague and supplier circles to manage teams and partnerships all have started to change the daily interactions in the workforce and market place. The social revolution is not understood well but is a groundswell change that businesses need to adapt to just as much as the telephone and email change behaviour in the past. Selecting the technologies to embrace to enable social collaboration in your business internally and also externally (with your supply chain and consumers) is a critical set of decisions that your should be reviewing right now.
5. Big Data and Analytics
The rise in computing power is finally enabling machines to see the “big picture” and businesses to ask hard questions of their data. The linking of data across different, seemingly unconnected areas to enable the enterprise is certainly a trend that will grow over the next ten years and beyond. Asking questions that were previously impossible to answer is now possible and businesses need to understand what data they want to capture, link and leverage to gain the insights they need. We have seen big supermarkets power their sales on Big Data – they collect the data on what customers buy via their points cards and link it to promotions targetted directly to the consumer; as a result sales rise. This is just one simple example of big data as we see forecasting technology and data mining technology penetrate. Watch this space as banks start to lever the debits on the their customer accounts to link to purchasing activity with partners to link to offers to consumers; travel businesses linking to retail to target consumers landing in a country; utility suppliers managing their demands with active metering… the list is huge and every business needs to look at the data it has, the data it needs and the tools it needs to exploit it.
6. 3D Printing and Objects on Demand
No list like this is valuable without the wild card entry and my personal punt on the next big trend is Objects on Demand. 3D printing is just emerging as a new technology force – you can download a template for an object and print it there and then. Right now this is expensive and can really only work with simple plastic objects like toys and costume jewellery. However, with a little imagination the technology can be imagined to revolutionise the way we consume things: interchangeable parts for electronics, reusable toys, print your own clothes, instant prototypes for industry – loads is possible, the technology is maturing. Think about how this could change your business. It may not be next year but it could be coming.
There were others I could have put on the list but these are my top six for thought. Here are some others to stimulate your thoughts – voice entry to devices (no more keyboards, no more open plan offices!), knowledge based systems replacing experts, “google glasses” … there are many. Make sure your firm has a way to sift the IT trends, watch the technology waves and decide what to surf.
photo credit: Creative Tools via photopin cc