Top Technology Trends for 2013

We look at impact of mobile, cloud, big data, and social media on IT in 2012 and how the technologies will be important in 2013.

By LN Balaji

Technology has been re-shaping the way organizations run their business, disrupting traditional models, changing industries, and creating and destroying companies. These changes are not only happening in the IT departments of organizations but to businesses as well. Technology often is the business. This has changed the face of the media industry. Similar changes have started in retail, and start-up companies in verticals such as health-care and services are trying to create similar technology-driven models.

The question is: why is it becoming easier for this shift to occur now? For senior leaders, it’s not enough to simply understand these trends. They also need to plan strategically around emerging business models, leading to changing needs in terms of resources, vendors, and partners needed to meet new demand.

This change is possible due to the now established long term trend in the areas of

  • Mobility
  • Cloud computing
  • Big data and analytics
  • Social

or what we will call the MCBS technologies. MCBS technologies have changed communication, collaboration, and delivery channels. These technologies were the top technology trends of 2012. Here’s why they will continue to be the top trends in 2013.

2013 Tech Trend #1: Smart mobility

The change brought in by mobility today is similar to the changes the Internet brought in the 1990s. Driven by innovation and consumer adoption, mobile devices have become an integral part of our personal and professional lives. Sales projections from both Gartner and IDC show that by 2015, the tablet market will grow to 479 million units compared to the PC market (which will be marginally ahead with 535 million units). Research by other analysts indicates that tablets alone will be able to adversely impact PC sales in the next few years, underlining the growing market for mobile devices.

This mobile revolution is supported by cloud-based applications. Users can access their data regardless of the storage capacity of their devices. A combination of cloud-based access to enterprise data and smart mobile devices, has taken enterprise functions such as customer relationship management (CRM) to new levels with unimaginable possibilities.

However, there are some impediments to smart mobility becoming a raging revolution. For example, structured IT systems in most organizations are not compatible with the inherent advantages of mobile devices. Supporting mobility can be expensive, and enterprise environments for smart mobile devices are not sufficiently evolved for widespread adoption.

2013 Tech Trend #2: Social for business

Social media has surpassed all modern communication methods in global collaboration. Social media is where global boundaries have truly merged. Many enterprises are using social networks to improve and deliver CRM processes. According to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, leading organizations are becoming social enterprises. Collaborative social tools are being recognized for their potential to improve business performance. According to Microsoft’s Benjamin Gauthey, organizations can benefit from integrating social computing tools into internal communication processes to address core business challenges.

Reports from McKinsey & Co. and Frost & Sullivan have shown revenue growth of social businesses as 24 percent higher than less-social firms, with multiple key performance indicators improving with social media integration. The trend is clear: more organizations will be using social media as a primary channel well into 2013.

Of course, they have to remember that social networking goes beyond Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube to include Microsoft SharePoint, blogs, RSS feeds, and Wikis. The only challenge to social media integration in enterprise processes is that for social media channels to be truly effective, a profound transformation at both the business and IT levels is needed.

2013 Tech Trend #3: Cloud

Cloud technology became popular for several obvious reasons -- such as lower infrastructure costs, ubiquitous access to data, and the emergence of stricter security technology. Several large enterprises have adopted cloud computing for non-mission-critical applications and are even considering optimizing their data centers to benefit from the business agility, flexibility of choice, and faster access to next-generation technology that enterprise clouds offer.

The benefits of economies of scale and the freedom to manage growing data needs with ease and access to a secure, limitless pool of storage capacity helped cloud computing grow in 2011 with an even greater adoption in 2012. According to analysts, in 2013 we will continue to see more companies using cloud infrastructure for disaster recovery planning. The current economic downturn is expected to last for some time, driving the need to optimize in-house IT resources and cut costs and improve infrastructure efficiency by adopting the cloud. Let’s look at some other predictions for cloud computing:

  • IDC says that by 2015, service-enabled software will account for almost 24 percent of all new software purchases, and SaaS will account for 13.1 percent of software spending.

  • Another IDC research report predicts that by 2016 the mobile SaaS Market will grow to $3.7 billion, and driven by the integration of business apps on mobile devices SaaS adoption in the enterprise domain will skyrocket.

  • According to Market Monitor, cloud computing is expected to reach a revenue of $16.7 billion by 2013.

  • Forrester pegs the global market for cloud computing at $241 billion in 2020, with the total public cloud market expected to grow to $159.3 billion in 2020.

  • According to Deloitte, cloud-based applications will replace 2.34 percent of enterprise IT spending in 2014, rising to 14.49 percent in 2020.

  • Finally, analysts at Gartner forecasts that the cloud IaaS market will grow by 47.8 percent through 2015.

Despite these positive predictions and encouraging forecasts by industry analysts, CIOs remain unsure of cloud security and find themselves not trusting cloud providers for reliable infrastructure.

2013 Tech Trend #4: Big data, big analytics

Businesses have no idea how to access the massive amounts of data they collect from multiple sources every day. Worse, once they do access that data, they are unsure of how to mine it for business advantage. To make things more complex, business cycles are becoming shorter, driving the need for faster and more competitive decision making.

Providing a great customer experience every time has never been more critical for limiting churn and building loyalty. Successful companies today are able to leverage this data to create a better customer experience, improve the purchase and post-purchase experience, build loyalty, and increase market share and profits. We have seen how new media companies are taking over the traditional media companies. Similar trends are showing up in retail. Walmart considers Amazon its biggest competitor today. Big data and big data analytics have given enterprises the chance to use all that data to solve a variety of problems from customer experience management to product development to warehousing and even manufacturing.

At the same time, no one wants to hire a data analyst team and wait a long time for a solution. Business leaders want to be able to monitor trends and demand real-time answers that help solve actual business problems. Executive dashboards and trend reports provide them with the insights they need to address customer needs and find new business opportunities. Big data analytics promises a long-term advantage in any market.

Where does IT come in? IT’s role is to enable high-performance big data analytics capabilities at low cost and with easy access while monitoring the complete data chain. McKinsey forecast that the amount of data being generated will continue to grow. McKinsey also says that big data will be most useful for R&D, supply chain, production, marketing, sales, post-sales support, and customer service. Today, however, enterprises don’t have the necessary in-house talent to manage big data, nor are they structured appropriately to enable cross-functional adoption of big data.

How IT Can Evolve

There’s no doubt that cloud computing, mobility, social computing, and big data analytics are the key trends driving the IT environment in 2012 and in 2013. According to IDC, spending on these technologies is growing at 18 percent every year and is expected to account for at least 80 percent of IT spending between 2012 and 2020.

Social computing is pervading enterprises at an explosive rate, and is further pushing the need for big data analytics. Several players (including Google, SAP, Microsoft, and Amazon) are also investing in such markets and are leading some of them. The IT organization must embrace the technologies that help them evolve into enabling business’ competitive edge. The widespread adoption of mobile technology and consumer applications will help drive enterprise mobility. A good way to technology adoption is to partner with external vendors who can provide maintenance and training.

L .N. Balaji is president of ITC Infotech (USA) Inc.; he heads the company’s operations in North America. You can reach the author at LN.Balaji@itcinfotech.com.

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