Wednesday, December 28

Trending Technology: The Deloitte Study, Part 1

For the last three years, Deloitte has published its annual "Tech Trends" report to identify what areas will have the most impact on CIOs in the coming year and beyond. The predictions are based on insights from Deloitte's technology subject matter specialists.

This year, Deloitte split its list into two parts, "(re)emerging enablers" and "disruptive deployments." It defines emerging enablers as trends that have been vested in but deserve another look, and it defines disruptive deployments as trends that showcase new business models and transformative ways to operate.

Using Deloitte's predictions as an outline, we've included some additional notes based on observations that our team has made in the last 12 months, beginning with the first five trends that fall under the "(re)emerging enablers" topic heading. On Friday, we'll follow up with the second set of five trends that Deloitte identifies as "disruptive deployments."

Five Areas Businesses May Want To Revisit In 2012.

Geo-spatial Visualization. Geospatial visualization takes advantage of geographical, location-aware data and provides semi-structured data from mobile devices such as geo-tagging and new streams of location-aware unstructured data. 

We're bullish on geo-spatial visualization, but mobile geo-tagging tends to elevate privacy concerns even when people opt in to these services. Several geo-tagging enterprises exploded and then dropped off in 2011 as people found out that sharing too much information isn't always a good thing.  If businesses can develop semi-private geo-tagging solutions (where consumers can check in with the option of private and public sharing as opposed to making all information public), then businesses can benefit from such data. Of course, this assumes they give consumers a very good reason to participate.

The challenge in geo-spatial visualization is that the elective nature of participatory location-aware data frequently skews measurements because not all consumers have a desire to participate and those who do might make up a unique group in terms of their psychographics. Where businesses can boost the relevance of the data they collect is in tracking more tangible outcomes tied to weakly linked data that doesn't infringe on individual privacy, e.g., proximity marketing campaigns and specific location sales.

Digital Identities. The digital expression of identity is growing more complex every day. Digital identities should be unique, verifiable, able to be federated and non-repudiable. As individuals take a more active hand in managing their own digital identities, organizations are attempting to create single digital identities that retain the appropriate context across the range of credentials that an individual carries. 

While the thought is a good one, especially in light of Google's effort to improve the Web by minimizing anonymity, there is always that looming question of privacy. More and more people don't feel comfortable with the prying nature of the net or the continued push to create singular online identities that link everything about their lives together. Part of the reason is that people are more complex than businesses think, and tend to keep various aspects of their lives relatively separate.

Organizations, on the other hand, are clearly trying to manage their online presence, but still struggle with an old school mentality that information can be controlled. Instead of attempting to control information through reputation management, organizations would be better off appreciating that they have blemishes and imperfections. Consumers tend to be very tolerant of most mistakes, but are less forgiving of how companies mitigate them.

Data Goes to Work. Organizations are finding ways to turn the explosion in size, volume and complexity of data into insight and value. This is occurring across structured and unstructured content from internal and external sources.  This is expected to complement but not replace long-standing information management programs and investments in data warehouses, business intelligence suites, reporting platforms and relational database experience. 

There is no doubt that organizations have a greater need to employ insightful data analysts who can turn bulk data into quickly understandable and visually stimulating information. More than any other trend, information management provides a definitive edge over the competition.

However, organizations that want to benefit from the vast amount of information that is available also need to develop a culture that tolerates analyst findings as opposed to looking for instructing them to find affirmation data. In addition, organizations need researchers who can correctly identify what data is important and then translate the information into visually dynamic reports without manipulating the numbers or misleading management — making research a function of intelligence over information.

Measured Innovation. CIOs can help facilitate the discovery of the next wave of true disruption -- and continuously improve the business of IT and the business of the business. Measured innovation offers an approach to managing both disciplines by providing a pragmatic way to identify, evaluate and launch potential innovations with a focus on aligning opportunities to areas that can fuel disruption and create measurable, attributable value.

Whether related to technology or communication, measurement is the most important and most abused resource available. Organizations will benefit from better measurement systems in the year ahead, but only if they are willing to measure the right outcomes.

For example, more executives need to appreciate that tangible measures such as increased revenue tend to be a side effect of less tangible outcomes, such as innovation, reputation, and market penetration. So instead of investing in tactics designed to increase sales, they would be better served by investing in strategies that improve the company, products, and promotional efforts, which will inevitably increase sales.

Outside-in Architecture. Flexibility in operating and business models is proving more important. As a result, need to share is colliding with need to know and shifting solution architectures away from a siloed, enterprise-out design pattern and into an outside-in approach to delivering business through rapidly evolving ecosystems.

If you can imagine business enterprise software that tracks multiple department activities (from product innovation to promotional activities) to direct geo-location outcomes, you'll find a glimpse of the future. Specifically, businesses need solutions that adequately deliver a near real-time view of their business at every layer and level.

While the analogy is dramatically oversimplified, operational analysis needs a visually dynamic tool not all that dissimilar to a Sims game (or the existing infrastructure that makes OnStar work), whereby multiple department input data that is simoutaneously viewable and reviewable by every department at various levels: the overall marketplace, geographical primality, departmental activities, and anticipated activities.

For example, pulling up a real-time product report could provide, at a glance, the status of product development, packaging progress, promotional development, regional field tests, anticipated market introductions, etc. based on preset percentages of completion that can be drilled down to the individual or team responsible for the execution.

Those are summaries of the first five predictions from Deloitte, along with our field notes. If you are interested in seeing their 64-page study, you can find it here. If you would like to discuss some of our observations in depth, drop a note in the comments or reach out direct any time.
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