Almost all would agree that 2011 has been a tough year for all businesses, however, as we gear up for the holiday season our thoughts inevitably turn towards the road ahead and the potential transformations of business IT in 2012, and what part technology will play.
This transformation or ‘re-imagination’ of business IT, was highlighted by industry analysts Gartner at their recent symposium in Barcelona, where they stressed that the focal point of change will centre around simplicity. The user experience will become the most prominent feature in defining success in the upcoming year. This will involve the structural examination of how, and where, solutions can simplify IT and communications and also provide tangible results on ROI, workforce mobility and reliability.
With the significant interest and proliferation of solutions delivering cloud computing in 2011, combined with the BYOD phenomenon gaining traction, IT departments have engaged in evaluating the suitability of these approaches for their business against the always there considerations of reliability and security. While 2011 saw cloud as the buzz word, it was for the most part simply hot air as few organisations actually made the move, but many are evaluating.
What is necessary and what will be realised in 2012 is the need to make cloud offerings more tangible by clearly communicating not only the service and solutions available, but also the right skills to use it successfully. This will enable businesses to examine and evaluate in a far more informed way the processes they should push into the cloud, and the way this will simplify business communications, allowing cloud-realism to override the ‘cloud-talk’ of 2011.
Earlier this year my CEO, Hamid Akhavan, summarised the consumerisation of the enterprise under the five megatrends; flexible deployment, reliability and security, social collaboration, the user experience and seamless mobility. These megatrends have already fuelled mass technological change and combined with the required security layer, and the right information, they will accelerate further to support cost effective employee mobility throughout 2012 and beyond.
In particular, if UK business is able to overcome the technology and cost restrictions highlighted in upcoming research by Siemens Enterprise Communications as current barriers to adoption, the benefits could lead them to success in 2012.
While we have seen this increasing focus on functionality expectations coupled with a drive towards workforce mobility: Unified Communications and collaboration is nevertheless still an undersold and under-utilised aspect of the market, with many organizations adopting a cautious approach with an “if it isn’t broke, don’t replace it” strategy.
2012 will see a significant drive towards the realisation of the benefits of the 2011 consumerisation focus, including collaboration. While budgets will remain tight the recognition of the competitive advantages to be made and the understanding of the workforce expectations – in particular the next generation ‘net natives’ – means that change will be driven not just by the IT department, but the C-level.
Those who have invested wisely in 2011 will begin to see the productivity gains and the benefits from social collaboration and mobile working as well as the more business focused gains – such as increased reliability and flexible consumption models. This will create a domino effect that alters the attitude of organisations towards investing in technology at a time of economic uncertainty, with the focus switching to a ’must have’ not a ‘should have’ attitude.