One of the key success factors in strategic planning is the ongoing monitoring and analysis of the external business environment. In addition to economic and societal developments, technological trends need to be constantly watched out for and explored regarding their potential impact on the company's strategy. That’s why today we would like to look into strategic technology trends that will likely demand our attention this year. In a recent report, the world leading IT market research firm Gartner has already ventured a prediction for 2013 and beyond.
According to Gartner, a strategic technology is one which has the potential for significant impact on the long-term success of a business. Strategic technologies may have a disruptive effect on the market, require businesses to make substantial financial investments, or pose the risk of being late to adopt and, ultimately, to fall behind the competition. On the other hand, businesses that identify and adopt major technological trends early on may gain a competitive advantage. Thus, these technologies need to be very carefully considered during the strategic planning process.
Gartner has identified the 10 top technology trends that executives, strategists, and IT managers should pay attention to in the next three years. Some of these trends, such as cloud computing and mobile applications, may already sound familiar to you. However, they will continue to develop and gain new momentum in the years to come.
- Mobile Device Battles
By the end of 2013, smart phones will finally overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. Mobile commerce will continue to grow in importance. In order to retain existing customers and attract new ones, also small and medium-sized businesses will need to start providing their products and services via mobile channels.
- Mobile Apps and HTML5
While native apps that are specifically designed to run on a device’s operating system and machine firmware will remain popular, HTML5-based web apps will prevail in the long-term. Web apps run on common browsers that can be accessed on most web-enabled mobile devices. This platform independence has the great advantage that companies only need to develop one app for all operating systems, which allows them to reach the maximum number of users while saving IT resources. Therefore, make sure that your IT staff receives appropriate training opportunities to become familiar with the new standard.
- Personal Cloud
Gartner predicts that the personal cloud will become the center of our digital lives. The personal cloud will gradually replace the PC as the location where individuals keep their personal content and find access to services. Users will see it as a portable, always-available place where they go for all their digital needs. The personal cloud shifts the focus from the client device to cloud-based services delivered across devices.
- Enterprise App Stores
Apps are becoming increasingly popular as a tool for corporate communication. Gartner believes that by 2014, most organizations will deliver mobile apps to their employees via private application stores.
- Internet der Dinge
The Internet of Things (IoT), that is the electronic networking of everyday objects, is one of the biggest emerging markets. Equipped with latest technology, such as sensors, image recognition technologies, and NFC (Near-field Communication) payment, these “things” can independently collect data, communicate, and control processes. This will pave the way for many new applications, which, however, will require large scale investments. GE , for example, has recognized this trend and announced recently that it will consequently connect all of its products using sensors. It is willing to invest not less than 1.5 billion dollars in the next three years in order to be among the top players in this new market.
- Hybride IT and Cloud Computing
The rise of cloud computing will change the role of IT departments. Their responsibilities will shift to coordinating the provision and usage of distributed cloud services both for internal users and external business partners. They will assume the role of a cloud service mediator which Gartner refers to as “Cloud Services Brokerage” (CSB). Gartner predicts that CSB will provide IT departments the opportunity to retain influence inside their organization.
- Strategic Big Data
The analysis and linking of big data from different sources can help organizations to gain a competitive advantage, identify potential fields of business, and generate savings potentials. Many organizations have long recognized the importance of big data. However, the previous concept of a single corporate data warehouse containing all information needed for making decisions is becoming obsolete. The new trend is to tie together multiple systems with data services and metadata, which will become what Gartner calls the “logical enterprise data warehouse.”
- Actionable Analytics
Further advances in cloud computing, mobile technology, and big data will allow organizations to perform analysis and simulations on every action taken in business quickly and easily from anywhere and at anytime. Being able to generate actionable data on the fly will lead to greater decision flexibility in organizations.
- In Memory Computing
In-memory computing (IMC) is one of the basic technologies enabling real-time self service business intelligence. With its HANA IMC system, SAP is the clear leader in this new market. Gartner assumes that other vendors will catch up in the next two years driving IMC into mainstream use.
- Integrated Ecosystems
Gartner identifies a clear trend towards more integrated systems. Driving this trend is the user desire for lower costs, more simplicity, and more security of personal data. Virtual Appliances are becoming increasingly popular.
The extent of the impact of these trends may vary by industry and company size. Nevertheless, make sure to carefully consider whether and how each trend could affect the environment in which your business competes in and what opportunities may arise from them.